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SAC CITY, Iowa -- A Newell, Iowa, man has pleaded not guilty to intentionally setting a corn crib on fire so that a new volunteer firefighter could help put out the blaze.

Alexander Lilly, 18, entered his written plea Friday in Sac County District Court to charges of second-degree arson, second-degree burglary, first-degree criminal mischief and trespass causing damage. His trial was set for Dec. 10.

Lilly is accused of helping Brent Mack set the fire Aug. 19 to the structure at 2531 180th St. in rural Nemaha.

According to court documents, Lilly and Mack, along with a 17-year-old girl, had sought to set a fire so that Mack, who recently joined the Nemaha Fire Department, could help put it out. Lilly and Mack are accused of using an accelerant to start the fire.

The building was engulfed in flames when firefighters from three departments arrived at the scene. The corn crib was a total loss. No one was injured.

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Authorities became suspicious, court documents said, when they learned Mack had reported the fire and was the first to arrive at the station even though he lived at least 15 minutes away.

Mack, 25, of Newell, also is charged with second-degree arson, second-degree burglary, first-degree criminal mischief and trespass causing damage. His arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 16.

The 17-year-old faces charges in juvenile court.

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