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Accused arsonist denies setting Salvation Army bin on fire

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A trailer full of donated items caught fire Tuesday morning outside a Salvation Army store in the Midway district.

SAN DIEGO – A man accused of setting fire to a semi-trailer next to a Salvation Army store in the Midway District pleaded not guilty Thursday to an arson charge.

Johnnie Ray McNeil, 38, was ordered held on $150,000 bail.

The non-injury blaze erupted outside the Salvation Army shop in the 3200 block of Sports Arena Boulevard shortly before 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.

It took crews about a half-hour to extinguish the flames, which gutted a semi-trailer full of donated goods and caused $35,000 in smoke and water damage to the adjacent store, said Capt. Joe Amador of the San Diego Fire- Rescue Department.

Shortly after the blaze broke out, police took McNeil into custody. A motive was not known.

McNeil will be back in court Aug. 8 for a readiness conference and Aug. 10 for a preliminary hearing.