Photos: Medical helicopter victim of arson in Verde Valley

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by Steve Ryan

azfamily.com

Posted on May 25, 2012 at 6:09 PM

Updated Friday, May 25 at 6:21 PM

Map: Verde Valley Medical Center

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VERDE VALLEY, Ariz. --  A man has been jailed for allegedly setting a medical helicopter in Verde Valley on fire with a Molotov cocktail.

Richard Butts, 26, was arrested by Cottonwood Police early Friday morning. 

Investigators said he filled a bottle with gasoline, then threw it at the front of the Bell 407 helicopter.

The glass broke, spreading fire across the front of the windshields. The interior of the helicopter, along with a lot of equipment, was also damaged.

It's estimated that Butts caused approximately $200,000 worth of damage. That figure could approach $3 million if mechanics find more damage.

Police said they weren't sure why Butts set the helicopter on fire, but he had reportedly been drinking prior to the incident.

Butts is facing several charges, including arson. 

A replacement helicopter was flown in from Flagstaff, so operations at the hospital were not affected.

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