Putting the flames out

Firefighters extinguish the fire on Star Lake Sunday. Ryan C. Johnson is being held in Otter Tail County Jail for allegedly starting the fire.

The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office had two detectives in Fargo Tuesday investigating the midnight burning of a walking bridge Sunday on Star Lake.

According to a release from the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office, Ryan C. Johnson is being held in the Otter Tail County Jail in Fergus Falls after being detained in Detroit Lakes. Johnson was booked on first- and second-degree arson on Sunday. The 43-year-old Mapleton, North Dakota, man owns a house close to the bridge on the 38000 block of County Highway 41, approximately 1.5 miles south of State Highway 108. 

The motive behind the fire may be linked to a hit-and-run that killed Johnson’s dog on Friday.

Authorities were alerted to the fire at approximately 12:08 a.m. Sunday a caller reported seeing a gas can on the bridge and observed a vehicle leaving the area.

The Dent Fire Department responded to the call and extinguished the wooden bridge fire. Otter Tail County deputies and the State Fire Marshal’s Office also responded. Their investigation led to the conclusion the fire was deliberately set. Several propane tanks were found near the bridge.

There was damage to the bridge structure and traffic was detoured by the Otter Tail County Highway Department. 

The investigation is ongoing with the expected execution of several search warrants.

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