Reward: Authorities say the central MN church fire wasn't an accident


Authorities say someone may have intentionally set a historic central Minnesota church on fire in March.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the State Fire Marshal are even offering a $7,500 reward to catch the person or people responsible.

The incident happened March 11 around 4:45 p.m. A deacon running errands discovered the fire at the Church of St. Mary in Melrose, the St. Cloud Times reported.

Initially, the fire was believed to be an accident. A church maintenance worker told the paper that the boiler room, electrical panels and the kitchen are located below the area where the fire originated.

But the Star Tribune says clues led investigators to believe otherwise. Authorities have not said what those clues are.

Days after the fire, damages to the 1898 church were estimated at $1 million. But the ATF says the "extensive damage" to the building's west side and other losses are valued closer to $5 million.

Anyone with information is asked to call the ATF hotline at 888-283-3473 or the Minnesota Arson hotline at 800-723-2020.

Callers may remain anonymous.

Next Up

Impound lot

Crowded impound lot raises COVID concerns after Minneapolis snow emergency

A vehicle owner complains about the tightly-packed impound lot following the weekend's snow.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, Jan. 27

The latest update from the state health department.


Charges: Bar owner, employee served underage drinkers during shutdown

The bar hosted 20-30 people on Dec. 4, 2020, charges say.

police lights

Driver wearing bulletproof vest strikes pedestrian in Rochester

The 21-year-old claimed the vest keeps him warm, according to police.

Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 8.08.05 PM

6 men charged in connection to 'disturbing trend' of carjackings, shootings

The men are accused of three carjackings in one day, as well as other crimes.

YouTube TV, FSN

Report: Fox Sports North is becoming Bally Sports North

The rebranding will reportedly happen prior to the start of the MLB season.

walmart mask

Wisconsin Senate votes to end statewide mask mandate

The joint resolution now heads to the Republican-controlled state assembly.

P.J. Fleck

Looks like the Gophers can put Fleck-to-Tennessee rumors to rest

Fleck is annually a hot commodity when coaching jobs open up.

Matt Dumba

Wild drop front end of back-to-back with Kings

The Wild lost consecutive games for the first time this season.


Apartment fire in St. Anthony appears to be arson, authorities say

The Friday morning blaze displaced a number of residents, including a mom and her small child.