Weather Forecast


Reward increased for Karlstad-area fire information

A fire consumes a house in Karlstad, Minn., on Oct. 2, 2012 after wildfires spread fueled by high winds and dry conditions. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

State and local officials said Wednesday they are increasing the reward for information on the person who started the fire that destroyed homes in Karlstad, Minn., and burned 4,400 acres in Marshall and Kittson counties in the first week of October.

Fire investigators from the Kittson County Sheriff's Office, the Marshall County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have determined that the probable cause of the fire, known as the County 27 fire, was arson. Investigators have also determined that other recent fires in the area also likely were arson and may be connected to the same suspects

The reward has been increased to $8,500 from the $6,000 announced on Oct. 10, officials said today.

The County 27 fire appears to have begun Sept. 30 near the intersection of Marshall County Road 27 and 250th Avenue Northwest, about four miles southwest of Karlstad. The fire had grown to 500 acres by Oct. 1, according to the DNR. On Oct. 2, temperatures up to 80 degrees, dry conditions and winds of 35 mph gusting to 45 mph drove the fire into Kittson County. It burned 4,440 acres, forced officials to evacuate parts of Karlstad, destroyed 11 homes there and damaged dozens of other structures, the DNR said. No one was injured in the fire, but several people got out just in time, officials said.

Anyone with information about how the fire could have started should call Marshall County Sheriff's Office at (218) 745-5411 or the Kittson County Sheriff's Office at (218) 843-3535. There also is the statewide Arson Tip Line at (800) 723-2020.