NORTH BRANCH, Minn. - Investigators in North Branch hope a $2,500 reward will help lead them to what may be a serial arsonist targeting their community.
The latest fire occured just before 3:30 a.m. Sunday, when first responders were called to the North Branch Veterinary Hospital on 12th Avenue for a structure fire.
Five dogs and a cat were rescued from the building without injury.
After digging through the rubble investigators from the Minnesota State Fire Marshal's office determined that the fire had been intentionally set, likely in some recycling bins out back of the animal hospital.
Investigators discovered charred siding on a nearby hotel, suggesting that the arsonist tried to start that building on fire as well.
Sergeant Rick Sapp of the North Branch Police Department says there have been between five to ten additional arson fires in community over the last few days. He says they started as dumpster fires but have since escalated to structure fires.
In addition to the vet hospital, a Tae Kwan Do studio and several other commercial businesses have been targeted.
Sapp says all of the fires have happened between 1 and 5 a.m.; Fortunately no lives have been lost.
Anyone who knows anything about the fires or who may have set them is asked to call North Branch Police at 651-674-8848 or the Arson Hotline at 1-800-728-2020.
There is a reward of up to $2500 for information leading to an arrest in this case.
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