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

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Posted at 3:16 AM, Dec 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-14 03:16:45-05

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.