Karlstad residents angry to hear arson suspected in fire

10:28 PM, Oct 10, 2012   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - The wildfire that destroyed 30 structures, including 11 homes in far northwestern Minnesota is believed to be arson.

The fire forced the evacuation of half the town of Karlstad.

"A lot of people suffered greatly. It cost a great expense both to the community," said Jean Bergerson, an investigator with the Department of Natural Resources.

It was last week Tuesday when fire ripped through Karlstad at an alarming rate. The town's fire chief, Jeremy Folland told KARE 11 Wednesday, the blaze was moving 20 to 40 feet per second across the prairie.

"The fire danger was off the charts that day, literally," said Folland who said there was no indication the fire was an accident.

No one was injured, which many are contributing to the work of the firefighters. That said, Folland and many other townspeople are angry to hear arson is suspected.

"You could say a lot of us are a little perturbed at whoever did this," he said.

Folland's home came within 20 feet from burning down, but fire fighters were able to get to his house quickly. That's because they were in the area checking for hot spots from a fire sparked days earlier.

"That's the only reason my house is still there because we had assets out there. If we had responded from the town I would have been one of the five or six people that lost their home too," he said.

Folland says investigators are following up on a few leads, but are asking for the public's help.

They are offering a reward of up to $6,000 to anyone who can offer up the person(s) who may have been involved.

Anyone one with information is asked to contact either the Kittson County Sheriff at 218-843-3535 or the Marshall County Sheriff at 218-745-5411. If people want to remain anonymous, they can call the Arson Tip Line at 1-800-723-2020.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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