An arson fire set early Sunday morning consumed the American Legion post in Ketchikan. A suspect, 28-year old Joseph Schacher Jr. was arrested Sunday afternoon and charged with first-degree arson and reckless endangerment.

According to a statement from Ketchikan Police Department Chief Jeff Walls, the fire at the Joseph T. Craig American Legion Post 3 was first reported at about 1:20 Sunday morning. The Ketchikan Fire Department, along with North and South Tongass Fire Departments responded to the blaze which took about five hours to contain. 

A section of Park Avenue, where the American Legion Post is located, was closed to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic while the investigation continued through Monday . Investigators are working with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. 

Schacher Jr. made his first court appearance on the charges Monday afternoon in Ketchikan District Court before Judge Katherine Lybrand. Public Defender Sam Tureff said he had not met with Schacher Jr. yet but pleaded not guilty on his behalf to the reckless endangerment charge. Tureff did not enter a plea on the felony arson charge, saying he wished to meet with his client first.

A preliminary hearing on the felony charge is set for 4 p.m. on September 21.

Bail for the felony charge was set at $100,000. The judge also required a $50,000 appearance bond, and that Schacher, Jr. have pre-trial supervision. Conditions of release include not going within 100-feet of the American Legion property, electronic monitoring, a third party custodian and mental health assessment. Schacher, Jr. is being held at the Ketchikan Correctional Center.

Schacher Jr. is currently under misdemeanor probation. He has five previous misdemeanor arrests and two felony arrests.

Police say additional charges may be filed. They ask if anyone has additional information to contact them at their non-emergency number – 907-225-6631. KRBD contacted a representative from the American Legion. A follow-up story is expected at the end of this week or early next week.

Military members and friends gather in front of what remains of Ketchikan Post 3. The American flag was saved and reflown (photo from Post 3 Facebook page).