UPDATE – 2013 Arson Case Dismissed For Lack of Evidence
UPDATE – 7-15-16: The Missoula County Attorney’s office has notified KGVO News that all charges against Birch Bergeson have been dismissed without prejudice, because the two witnesses who allegedly saw Bergeson set fire to the Senior Citizens Center could not be found to testify against him.
ORIGINAL STORY: A Deer Lodge man, Birch Bergeson, 25, appeared in Missoula Justice Court on Monday, January 6, charged with starting a fire that damaged the Missoula Senior Citizen Center on April 12, 2013.
Sergeant Scott Pastian with the Missoula Police Department said that fire and police personnel responded to the Senior Citizen Center for a structure fire.
“The fire was suspicious in nature,” Pastian said. “We conducted an arson investigation and had an arrest warrant issued for Birch Bergeson back in October. He was recently arrested on a $50,000 warrant out of Missoula County and brought back to face charges for arson at the Senior Citizen Center.”
Sergeant Scott Pastian
Court records indicate that Bergeson was with two other individuals caught on surveillance video near the Senior Citizen Center, identified as Sarah Washington and Sean Reinhart. The two told police that Bergeson had been with them, and was acting strangely, and that he had gone off by himself toward the center. Washington said that Bergeson admitted to her that he had started the fire.
Court records also indicate the fire caused over $11,000 in damage.