RIDGE MANOR — The Hernando County Sheriff's Office has arrested a man suspected of igniting a fire that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage earlier this month to the East Hernando Branch Library.
Joseph M. Brannen, 18, was being held Sunday on one count of second-degree arson, sheriff's spokeswoman Denise Moloney said. She said his bail was set at $3,000.
The arrest followed a joint investigation with the state Fire Marshal's Office. No further information about the investigation was released Sunday.
The fire was reported at 2 a.m. July 6 at the 6457 Windmere Road library. Jail records list an address for Brannen about a block away from the library.
Authorities said the fire was set in a small screened-in reading room at the rear of the building, where firefighters said the culprit had stacked several wicker chairs against the back door to the main portion of the library and set them ablaze.
In addition to extensive water and smoke damage, officials said the fire destroyed hundreds of books, magazines and videotapes. They estimated last week that the library could be closed for months for repairs.