Herald JournalHerald Journal, Oct. 11, 2004

3 fires in 2 days at same farm

By Ryan Gueningsman

Fire investigators are still not certain what started an initial shed fire at Frank Weber’s residence early last Monday morning – but it is being considered suspicious.

“It certainly makes a guy think,” property owner Warren Weber said. “Whether it was intentional toward us, or it was just someone out getting a kick, it makes you ask, ‘Why?’”

There was no electricity running to the shed, no flammable material inside the shed, and everything stored inside the shed was metal, according to Frank Weber’s nephew, Leo Weber.

Firefighters from Winsted and Howard Lake arrived just after 3 a.m. to extinguish the blaze. By the time they arrived, the grainery was basically a total loss.

Approximately 50,000 gallons of water were used on the grainery as it burned, commented Warren Weber.

Before the fire department left, it checked the hog barn directly south of where the grainery stood for hot spots, using its thermal imaging camera. Finding none, the department left, and State Fire Marshal Casey Stotts was called to investigate.

When Stotts arrived at the property Monday afternoon, he noticed the hog barn on fire and called the blaze in. The Winsted Fire Department again responded and extinguished the burning building.

The following evening, one more building was on fire on the Weber property. This time, a small outbuilding in close proximity to a propane tank.

“Even with the small building, the fire department came out and put their hearts into it,” Warren Weber said. “They were very fast-acting with that propane tank.”

Weber thinks that blaze started from residue left over from the one of the first two fires falling from a large tree onto the outbuilding.

The occupant of the home, 93-year-old Frank Weber, was uninjured throughout all of the fires, but is shaken up over the incidences, Warren Weber said.

Stotts believes that the initial fire was arson, or at least suspicious in nature, commented Sgt. Rich Gronlund from the McLeod County Sheriff’s Department. At this time, it looks like the other two fires rekindled from the first one, he said.

Anyone with information about this fire can contact the McLeod County Sheriff’s Department at (320) 485-2600 or (320) 864-3134.

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