Man accused of burning Phoenix suburb's $40K Christmas tree


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MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Police in the city of Mesa near Phoenix say a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson and criminal damage for allegedly burning the city's $40,000 Christmas tree.

The nearly four-story tall tree is the focal point of Mesa's annual Christmas celebration.

It was destroyed by a fire early Wednesday that police say was intentionally set.

Police say 34-year-old Samuel Antone Johnson was found nearby and allegedly admitted to setting the "Merry Main Christmas Tree" on fire with a book of matches. Police say the man did not disclose a motive.

Johnson has been booked into jail on two felonies. It's unclear if he has a lawyer yet.

City officials say they're trying to quickly find a replacement tree to erect for the rest of the holiday season.

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