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DL man arrested in house fire

Jade Wallace Hedlund

The man living in the house destroyed by fire in Detroit Lakes Monday afternoon has been arrested in connection with the incident.

Jade Wallace Hedlund, 21, was taken into custody Tuesday morning and transported to the Becker County Jail.

It is unknown at this time what charges Hedlund is facing; Becker County attorneys are reviewing the case.

The fire started Monday afternoon at 202 West Grant Street in Detroit Lakes just after 2 p.m. It left Hedlund, his wife, Jessie, and three young children homeless.

According to Detroit Lakes Police Chief Tim Eggebraaten, Hedlund was arrested without incident after authorities deemed the fire “suspicious” and the Minnesota Fire Marshall was called in to investigate.

While authorities say nobody was in the house at the time of the fire, Hedlund was at the scene while firefighters were battling the blaze, watching and visibly upset from a nearby car.

Although he would not comment to the Detroit Lakes Newspapers as to what happened, he did direct questions to his wife.

Hedlund’s wife, Jessie Hedlund, arrived at the scene about 15 minutes later with her three children as smoke barreled out of the house.

 “I left for work at 1:40 (Monday afternoon), I got to work at 2, and then I get a call from my friend, who works at Erv's (Towing and Tune-Ups) down the road there, and he said to get home quick because the house is on fire," said an emotional Hedlund, who said at that time, she had "no idea" what caused the fire.

A community’s response

Since news broke Monday of the fire, the Detroit Lakes community has rallied to help the Hedlund family, who lost nearly everything they own. The family was renting the house, but according to Jessie Hedlund, they did not have insurance on anything inside. Her brother, Andrew Leitheiser, says people have been coming out of the woodwork to help take care of the family’s needs.

“It’s been unbelievable,” said Leitheiser. “I’ve been getting calls left and right with people providing her with couches, beds, dressers, clothes, pots, pans, even a TV and a microwave.”

Leitheiser says he has also set up a Go-Fund-Me account to help his sister and three children as they attempt to find a new place to live and start over. They are currently staying with friends, he said.

“But I know they’re going to need help with things that people don’t always think of, toiletries, food,” said Leitheiser, who says he has been busy picking up donations for his sister.

He says their family went through a similar house fire in 1989 and remembers losing everything then as well.

“It was right before Christmas, and I remember the community came together back then, too, to make sure us kids all had Christmas presents to open up on Christmas day,” he said. “And now they’re doing it again. This community just amazes me.”

Leitheiser says he will continue to take donations for his sister and her children; he can be reached at 218-396-0932.

Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes and Perham, both in Minnesota.

(218) 844-1466