A historic building that once housed the Rush City Creamery in east-central Minnesota has fallen victim to arson, investigators say.

The suspects in the midday fire on Nov. 12 are five 12-year-olds, the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office said. The case has been forwarded to the county attorney’s office for it to weigh what criminal consequences there might be for the youngsters.

Authorities received a tip about three girls and two boys being in the building, said Police Capt. Keith Hoppe.

According to a police report, Hoppe added, “all five entered the creamery building and one of the ... boys started the fire.”

The suspects’ names were not disclosed.

Fire crews from throughout the area converged on the brick structure and spent most of the day containing the blaze, fire officials said.

Rubber and tires on the premises helped fuel the fire.

The long-vacant building near Eliot Avenue S. and W. 5th Street was built in 1921 and ceased operations as a creamery in the late 1990s, said Carl Heinrich, a director of the North Chisago County Historical Society and a dairy farmer who lives just outside of town.

“It looks like there’s a lot of damage on the south side,” Heinrich said, but two sides are “not touched at all.”

Heinrich recalls when the creamery would reach an annual production milestone of 1 million pounds, and “they would blow the whistle and blow the whistle celebrating.”

Paul Walsh