Reward offered in Melrose church fire

A reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the March 11 fire at St. Mary Church in Melrose, authorities announced May 20.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the state fire marshal — through the Minnesota Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators — are posting a combined reward of up to $7,500, according to an ATF news release.

This is the first time authorities have stated publicly that the fire was “incendiary,” or “intentionally set,” acknowledged Special Agent Martin Siebenaler, ATF public information officer. But he said he could not comment on what led investigators to determine it was arson.

“That would be part of the certified fire investigator’s reports which won’t be released prior to adjudication,” he said.

Dave Olsen, an employee of Servicemaster, worked March 12 to estimate the cost of the initial clean-up following the fire. (Dianne Towalski / The Visitor)
Dave Olsen, an employee of Servicemaster, worked March 12 to estimate the cost of the initial clean-up following the fire. (Dianne Towalski / The Visitor)

On March 11 at approximately 4:43 p.m., a fire was reported at St. Mary’s, which was built in 1898 and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The fire caused extensive damage to the west side of the church and the loss is estimated at approximately $5 million, according to the ATF.

Investigators are seeking the public’s help “in solving this crime and are hopeful that this reward will provide additional leads in the investigation,” the ATF said.

Anyone having information about the fire should call the toll free ATF hotline at 888-ATF-FIRE (888-283-3473) or the Minnesota Arson Hotline at 800-723-2020. Callers may remain anonymous.

About The Visitor

The Visitor is the official newpaper for the Diocese of Saint Cloud.

1 comments

Just wonder why would anyone do something like this……Hope some way that question will be answered…….

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