Renville County Food Shelf fire deemed arson - New York News

Renville County Food Shelf fire deemed arson

Posted: Updated:
Photo courtesy of Adam Hoogenakker, with the Renville County Register. Photo courtesy of Adam Hoogenakker, with the Renville County Register.
OLIVIA, Minn. (KMSP) -

Investigators with State Fire Marshal's Office are offering a $2,500 reward after determining that a fire at the Renville County Food Shelf was started intentionally.

The fire was first reported at 8:35 p.m. on Sunday, and investigators believe someone deliberately set the fire in the doorway of the local food pantry.

"I don't know who would have the guts to do something like that," said Olivia Fire Chief Tim Seehusen. "For someone to do something like this is pretty low."

The affected building, which also houses the Redwood/Renville Red Cross, a thrift store, the Hair Connection and a second-story apartment unit, is located at 902 W. Depue Ave. in Olivia. All of the businesses inside will remain closed for now, and all of the needy in Renville County will now need to find another place for assistance. 

Officials say the resident of the apartment was able to escape unharmed, but the community is still hurting as they struggle to understand who would target a charity.

"It's a service for the community," said Ardis Wertish, of the Renville County Food Shelf. "I mean, there are people out there who need food."

Wertish told FOX 9 News the food pantry has been her pet project. They get no public funding. Instead, all the money and groceries come from community donations. Volunteers -- including Wertish -- run the pantry. Last month, they helped nearly 300 families in need.

Sadly, they aren't the only ones who find themselves unable to help others now. A charitable clothing center was also ruined, and the Red Cross lost most of the supplies used for local disaster relief.

This isn't the first hardship to befall these charities either. The women who run the food shelf and clothing drop told FOX 9 News their office had recently been broken into a few times, and the thieves made off with the petty cash box. Police are exploring possible connections.

Anyone with information regarding the fire or potential suspect information is asked to contact any of the following agencies:

  • State Arson Hotline 1-800-723-2020
  • Olivia Police Department at 320-523-2700
  • Renville County Sheriff's Department at 320-523-1161

Multiple agencies -- including the Olivia Police Department, Olivia Fire Department, Danube Fire Department, Blue Island Fire Department, Renville County Sheriff's Department and the Olivia Ambulance -- responded to the fire.

The owner of the building, Dave Triplett, told FOX 9 News that they will do whatever it takes to get the building back open.

In the meantime, the food shelf hopes to reopen within a couple weeks inside a nearby office space that is available.

"Either the building will come down or be gutted," he said. "We will rebuild if that is what it takes."

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Official: NYPD body cameras are 'win-win'

    Official: NYPD body cameras are 'win-win'

    Thursday, August 21 2014 5:36 PM EDT2014-08-21 21:36:44 GMT
    Public Advocate Leticia James says a 3-ounce camera, if used correctly, could be a key tool in improving community and police relations. She showed off one of the cameras she believes NYPD patrol officers need to be wearing. She said that the cameras would be a "win-win" for the public, transparency, police accountability improving police community relations, reducing civil liability.
    Public Advocate Leticia James says a 3-ounce camera, if used correctly, could be a key tool in improving community and police relations. She showed off one of the cameras she believes NYPD patrol officers need to be wearing. She said that the cameras would be a "win-win" for the public, transparency, police accountability improving police community relations, reducing civil liability.
  • Savion Glover, the master teacher

    Savion Glover, the master teacher

    Thursday, August 21 2014 5:26 PM EDT2014-08-21 21:26:05 GMT
    While the rest of us merely march to the beat of our own drum, Savion Glover is the drum. The tap dance superstar has dazzled audiences from the small screen to the big screen from the White House to the Great White Way. More than just a legend, Savion has become a curator of tap. He is on a mission to keep the craft sacred for future generations.
    While the rest of us merely march to the beat of our own drum, Savion Glover is the drum. The tap dance superstar has dazzled audiences from the small screen to the big screen from the White House to the Great White Way. More than just a legend, Savion has become a curator of tap. He is on a mission to keep the craft sacred for future generations.
  • Sharpton promises orderly march

    Garner's family meets U.S. attorney

    Garner's family meets U.S. attorney

    Thursday, August 21 2014 5:18 PM EDT2014-08-21 21:18:39 GMT
    The Rev. Al Sharpton and family members of Eric Garner came from a meeting with U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in which they asked for a federal civil rights investigation into his apparent chokehold death. Meantime, Staten Island businesses are bracing for the huge crowds expected at Saturday's march. Sharpton said he is estimating about 3,000 to 5,000 people to rally Saturday.
    The Rev. Al Sharpton and family members of Eric Garner came from a meeting with U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in which they asked for a federal civil rights investigation into his apparent chokehold death. Meantime, Staten Island businesses are bracing for the huge crowds expected at Saturday's march. Sharpton said he is estimating about 3,000 to 5,000 people to rally Saturday.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices