May 28, 2007

Arson investigation underway for Cokato fire

By Lynda Jensen

Who lit two small fires at the back entry and basement of the former hardware store in Cokato?

Wright County detectives are at work to solve this very question, regarding a suspicious fire May 18 in downtown Cokato.

Mike Neisen, who plans to convert the building into an off-sale liquor store, discovered the fires when he stopped at the building, while gaining entry from the west side door in the back, Friday afternoon at 1:51 p.m., reported Sgt. Annette Habisch of the criminal investigative unit.

“He smelled smoke and observed a small fire in the entry that leads downstairs, on the landing,” she said. Another fire was located in the basement under the steps, where Neisen was standing.

Neisen called city hall, which in turn placed the call to the fire department, she said.

When they arrived, firefighters smelled accelerant, Habisch said.

“Everything was secure. There was no forced entry,” she noted, saying that the doors were locked when the fires took place.

The fires were quickly put out. Minimal damage was reported, in the amount of about $200, Habisch said.

The building is being leased by Neisen from the owner, Thomas Knutson of Minnetrista.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at (763) 682-7622 or (800) 267-3667 (ask for sheriff’s office).

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