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Brett Anderson / Special to Forum Communications
Brett Anderson / Special to Forum Communications

Reward increased for finding arsonist responsible for County 27 wildfire

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region Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Agencies investigating the County 27 wildfire that recently burned into Karlstad in northwestern Minnesota are increasing the reward to up to $8,500 for information leading to identification of the arsonist. Reward funds are from various state, county and private sources.

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Fire investigators from the Kittson County sheriff's office, the Marshall County sheriff's office and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have determined that the probable cause of the fire was arson. Investigators have also determined that other recent fires in the area have also likely been arson and may be connected to the same suspects.

The County 27 wildfire started Sept. 30 at about 2 p.m. in Marshall County, Nelson Park Township, north of the intersection of County Road 27 and 250 Avenue NW, also known as the Ridge Road. On Oct. 2, an extreme wind event with Red Flag Fire Warnings occurred, causing the fire to blow out and move into Kittson County and the city of Karlstad. It destroyed 11 homes and numerous other structures and 4,440 acres of natural resources in its path.

The most recent fire burned 25-acres on Monday, Oct. 15, around 9 p.m. That fire was located on the County Line Road in Arveson Township northeast of Karlstad.

An 88-acre fire occurred on Sunday Sept. 9, around 3 p.m., in Nelson Park Township about one-half mile east of the Lutheran Church on the gravel road portion of County Road 27. This fire was only about one mile from the start of the massive fire that burned into Karlstad and it started under similar conditions.

Anyone with information on any of these fires is encouraged to contact either the Kittson County sheriff at 218-843-3535 or the Marshall County sheriff at 218-745-5411. For those who wish to remain anonymous, call the Arson Tip Line at 800-723-2020.

Arson caused wildfires around Karlstad and other nearby communities in Kittson and Marshall counties have occurred at a much higher rate than other areas of Minnesota. The public's help is needed to stop these. Report any information regarding suspicious vehicles or other information to authorities, even if the fire is small and seemingly harmless. All fire calls put emergency responders at risk. Smokes across roads from recent fires have caused traffic accidents.

Arson started fires in Minnesota cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year. The cost to those who lost homes is immeasurable.

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