Police: Widespread Vandalism Hits Chetek Library; Arson Fires Set

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Vandals targeted two downtown businesses and the Chetek Public Library last night leaving thousands of dollars in damage.

From smashed computers and windows to books thrown off of shelves, police say nothing was left untouched as vandals went on a spree in downtown Chetek Monday night.

Warehouse Manager of Badger State Recovery, Thomas Bischel, says, "When we opened the door, we had lots of smoke, the lights were on, which we usually don't leave on."

Bischel says the business he works is lucky to still be standing.

Thomas Bischel says, "The fires were probably 85 percent of really taking off and doing a good job of burning the place down. Their definite intent was to burn the place down."

Chetek Police Chief Mark Peterson says the vandals set three separate fires inside the building, one of which melted a section of the ceiling.
Bischel says because they keep it so cold in the building, it helped extinguish the flames.

Thomas Bischel says, "We have approximately 2 million tons of paper that we bale up and store, waiting to be shipped."

Across the street at Jennings Law Office, owner Greg Jennings says vandals sprayed a fire extinguisher all over his offices, leaving a thick white coating on desks and on the floor.

A block over, at the public library, workers poured over thousands of books thrown off of shelves.

Carol Burnham says, "Every single item has to be handled, no matter how trashed, it has to be handled in some format."

Chief Peterson says feces was also spread over some of the books and ground into the carpets. Hardly anything was left untouched. Burnham says damage estimates appear to be in the thousands.

Carol Burnham says "We do so much for the community on such a slim budget, it's hard to imagine why someone would want to make our work harder."

The director of the Calhoun Memorial Library in Chetek says she anticipates the facility will open again this Friday at 9 a.m.
Petersen says theft doesn't appear to be the motive for these acts.

¶The police department is asking anyone with information to contact the Chetek Police Department at 715-924-3686 or 715-925-3784.

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY: THE CHETEK ALERT

CLICK HERE to see the damage at the library.

CLICK HERE to see the damage at the library.

CLICK HERE to see the damage at the library.

CLICK HERE to see the damage at the library.

CLICK HERE to see the damage at the library.