Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying an arsonist who set a fire at a paper company west of downtown Minneapolis last month, causing $10,000 in losses.
The department released surveillance video showing someone setting fire to the bales on April 25, using what police described as a “garden-style torch.”
Additional video showed the blaze spreading to other bales of recycled material at Pioneer Paper, 179 N. Irving Av.
The fire engulfed tons of recyclable paper products and wooden pallets outside the company’s facilities and nearly ignited a tank of fuel nearby.
On its website, Pioneer describes itself as is “a leader in the Twin Cities market with both a recycling operation and a secure shred division.” It said it has run recycling operations in Minneapolis for more than 100 years.” The Star Tribune is among Pioneer’s many clients.
Police said that before setting fire to the bales, three white men in their 20s or early 30s, one of whom was seen carrying the torch, were observed near N. 1½ Avenue and Oliver Avenue, walking in the direction of Pioneer Paper.
Just before 10:30 p.m., the men were seen approaching Pioneer Paper from adjacent railroad tracks, police said.
The flame thrower likely used was similar to the wand for a pressure washer or a device like one police included in the video made available to the public, the department said.
“The flame thrower may be homemade or a modified garden torch able to throw a significant level of flame,” police said in a news release.
Minneapolis police arson investigators asked that anyone with information related to the crime call the department’s arson desk at 612-673-3070.
Police said that important information might include the name of a person who either possessed or had access to a flame thrower, the name of anyone who had talked about the incident, or who indicated they had knowledge of the incident.
The police added that information that leads to an arrest and/or prosecution may result in a cash award.
It took about two hours to bring the blaze under control and another five-plus hours before fire crews had the last of the flames doused.
Along with the several 2,000-pound bales of paper products and the pallets, flames also consumed a large pile of plastic containers filled with highly flammable plastic scrap, the Fire Department report said. The flames also narrowly missed a large tank filled with diesel fuel.
Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report.