Weather Forecast


Man charged for allegedly setting Murray County blaze

SLAYTON -- A Lake Wilson man accused of starting an abandoned house on fire is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Oct. 31 in Murray County District Court.

Charged with first-degree damage to property, fifth-degree assault, obstructing the legal process, disorderly conduct, crossing a fire hose and failure to report a fire, David Wayne Kooiker, 58, reportedly started a trailer house on fire that was less than 25 feet from an adjacent residence.

The criminal complaint states authorities were contacted shortly before 7 p.m. Oct. 14 with a report that Kooiker was about to set fire to the abandoned trailer house. The Lake Wilson Fire Department was dispatched to the location on 111th Street, and when the deputy arrived, the trailer was fully engulfed in flames.

Lake Wilson Fire Chief Ron Henning reported to the deputy that Kooiker was interfering with their firefighting efforts. The deputy located Kooiker near the burning building and requested that he move to a safe location to discuss the need for the fire to be extinguished. Kooiker allegedly became belligerent and refused to move, demanding that the deputy get his hands off him when the deputy grasped his arm.

Kooiker resisted the deputy's efforts to move him away from the fire until the deputy threatened to tase him. Eventually, the deputy was able to handcuff Kooiker and get him inside a squad car. Inside the vehicle, Kooiker continued to be agitated, telling the deputy he did not want the fire department to extinguish the fire and that he wanted everyone off his property. The deputy informed Kooiker that the burning of the house was not only unsafe, but against the law.

Family members told the deputy Kooiker had recent changes to his medications and was not thinking clearly, but the deputy noted Kooiker was coherent, aware of his surroundings and alert.

After another deputy had taken Kooiker to jail, the first deputy spoke with fire department personnel and learned Kooiker had pushed fire hose back to the fire truck with a front-end loader when the firefighters were attempting to get hoses into position to fight the fire. A firefighter told the deputy Kooiker had placed the bucket of the loader down on the hose and dragged it, pulling the hose out of fighters' hands and coming very close to the fire truck and firefighters before stopping. The nozzle of the hose was buried in the gravel.

The deputy photographed the marks in the gravel, the burning structure and the main house, noting damage to the main house from the fire. The house had been exposed to extreme heat, which had caused deformation and breakage of windows.

Minnesota State Fire Marshal Steve Kellen met with the deputy the following morning and returned to the scene, where they discovered hot spots had occurred and open flames were present. The Lake Wilson Fire Department was called to extinguish the flames.

Kellen documented the scene, noting the main house was only 24 feet from the burnt trailer house. The porch of the main house was only 13 feet from the trailer. Kellen said the main house would have caught fire if not for the actions of the fire department.

According to court documents, Kellen posted a non-cash bond Tuesday.