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A year later, arson investigation continues

The Hovland arson scene
The Hovland arson scene

Although a year has passed since a home in Hovland was destroyed by fire, investigators are still not ready to close the case.

On November 21, 2017, the Minnesota State Fire Marshal, in conjunction with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, announced that the cause of the residential structure fire that occurred in the early morning hours of Nov. 5, at 5774 Highway 61 in Hovland, was likely arson.

The investigation confirmed that gasoline was used as an accelerant in the incendiary blaze. As this is a criminal offense, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office continues the investigation. Polygraph testing was completed, but did not result in any criminal charges.

A public records search shows the property belongs to Jeffrey P. Holmberg.

Last November, Sheriff Pat Eliasen called for the public’s help in solving the case, stating, "Arson destroys more than buildings; it can incite fear and vulnerability in communities, puts emergency responders at risk and is a punishable crime."

An arson conviction can result in a fine of up to $35,000 and/or up to 20 years in prison.

Anyone with information that could assist in identifying the arsonist, is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 218-387-3030 or the Minnesota Arson Hotline at 800-723-2020 with any information.

A reward up to $5,000 would be available through the Minnesota International Association of Arson Investigators (MN IAAI) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist.