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Arson suspected in string of small Farmington fires

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Arson suspected in string of small Farmington fires
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

A string of small fires over the past 10 days has Farmington fire marshal John Powers asking for the public's help in identifying the arsonist who is setting them.


Since June 30, somone has set three fires in the general area of Rambling River Park, near the Vermillion River, in downtown Farmington. Powers is convinced all three fires were set by the same person.

"There was evidence at all of the scenes that suggest (the fires) were suspicious in nature," Powers said Monday. "All three of them have the same type of evidence, and they're closely related, physically and geographically."

The first fire was called in around 8 p.m. on June 30, by someone walking along a trail through Rambling River Park. The caller reported that a fire was burning on the railroad bridge that passes over the Vermillion River in the park. Firefighters responded, and were able to put out the small fire with an extinguisher and water. No structural damage was done to the bridge.

Two days later, on July 2, Powers was called to Dodge Middle School, because remnants of a small fire had been found behind the building, on the side closest to the Vermillion River. There, Powers found burned papers and cardboard boxes. He suspects the fire was set sometime between when the school staff left on July 1, and when they returned the following morning.

The most recent fire occurred the evening of July 6. Firefighters were called to ONG Auto on Third Street, where someone had set fire to some furniture that had been placed behind the building. The fire spread into the building itself, causing between $4,000 and $10,000 in damage.

Given the frequency and the nature of the fires, Powers is asking for the public's help in locating the person setting those fires. He's working with the Farmington police to investigate the arsons, and police are increasing patrol around the area, but Powers is hoping someone else may have information.

"Not only are we looking at the evidence, but we're looking for witnesses. People who live in that neighborhood, anyone using the parks or trails, or anyone living along there. We're asking that if they see anything suspicious, they immediately report it," Powers said.

Anyone who has information can call Powers at 651-775-6555; or call 911 to reach Farmington police.

"We need the neighbors to help us out and be extra vigilant," Powers said.

Michelle Leonard
Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and is the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 
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