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Greenbush hit by string of apparent arsons

Police have a suspect in four cases of apparent arson in Greenbush, Minn., including fires in two churches, in the past month or so.

But no one has been arrested, said Lisa Hanson, Roseau County attorney.

On the evening of May 8, a passing parishioner spotted a fire inside the library window of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Greenbush, according to "Our Northland Diocese," the newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Crookston.

Firefighters found one small fire in a waste basket in the men's bathroom, which never really got going, and a larger fire in the library, said Monsignor David Baumgartner, vicar general of the Catholic Diocese of Crookston. The fire damage to the structure was not extensive but smoke damage went throughout the building. The congregation has been meeting in a small rural church in nearby Leo, Minn., that was closed a decade ago but has been maintained well, Baumgartner said. The parish again will come home to worship in Greenbush on Sunday, he said.

A week after the fire was set in the Catholic church, a fire was set inside Bethel Lutheran Church in Greenbush, doing some damage but not enough to chase the congregation, according to the pastor, the Rev. Nancy Jewell. Insurance adjusters are figuring out the losses, she said.

Bethel had opened its doors to allow the Catholic parish to hold some meetings there.

Hanson said fires were set in a bar and nursing home in Greenbush, too.

"The investigation into the fires is continuing," she said. There is a suspect but no arrests have been made yet, Hanson said.

Greenbush Police Chief told the diocesan newspaper that the fire in the nursing home began in a garbage can, like the one in the Catholic church.

"This is a very close-knit community," Siems told the newspaper. "And what we have now is a scared community."

He promised the case would be solved.