OWATONNA – For the second time in five days, the historic Arnold House in downtown Owatonna caught fire, and, as with the first fire on Monday, firefighters believe Friday night’s blaze was intentionally set.
“It started in the interior,” say Fire Commander Bruce Thomas of the Owatonna Fire Department after the department had been on the scene for more than an hour. “The only way for it to start is somebody being in there. In other words, it was intentionally set. But we knew that on the first one.”
Unlike Monday night’s fire, however, the fire on Friday seemed to do more damage, with firefighters battling the blaze on both the second and third floors of the building as well as between the two floors and into the roof.
“Right now we can’t get at it from either the second or third floor,” Thomas said of the fire caught between the two floors.
Emergency personnel responded to the fire at the building in the 100 block of West Vine Street shortly before 7:30 p.m.
It was same building to which firefighters responded at about 10:30 p.m. On Monday night, however, they were able to extinguish the fire fairly quickly as they pulled a smoldering pile of clothing and other items from the building.
On Tuesday, Owatonna Fire Department Commander Kevin Sedivy said it appeared Monday’s fire was intentionally set.
According to the Steele County Recorder’s Office, the property is owned by Equity Bank, which is based in Minnetonka but also has a branch in Claremont.
The house was built in 1866 by B.L. Arnold and run as a hotel, according to Steele County Historical Society records.
Reach Managing Editor Jeffrey Jackson at 444-2371, or follow him on Twitter.com @OPPJeffrey