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Frazee man in court for setting home on fire

A Frazee man made his first appearance Tuesday in Becker County District Court on a felony charge of first degree arson.

Chad Steven Pikula, 38, of 604 West Ash Ave., Frazee, is accused of setting fire to the home in rural Menahga that he shared with his wife on Dec. 14, 2010.

The fire was reported late that afternoon at the Pikula residence, 48663 120th St., Menahga, and a subsequent investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office showed three separate points of origin for the fire. The investigator observed what appeared to be a "pour pattern," left by a flammable substance set on fire, between the kitchen floor and the home's east entrance.

Pikula claimed that he had been visiting his wife in a Fargo hospital on the day the incident occurred. According to the criminal complaint filed on May 24, he said he was putting some clothes in the dryer in the basement when an explosion occurred, knocking him across the room. However, the investigator determined that there were no visible signs of such an explosion occurring.

Samples taken from the kitchen floor and an entry mat inside the east doorway of the home were sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis; traces of a flammable liquid were found. It was subsequently determined by the investigator that fires had been deliberately set at three different points in the home.

Pikula has been released on his own recognizance pending his next court appearance, at a June 8 Rule 8 hearing.