Orono police vehicles damaged in possible arson
Two of the Orono Police Department’s squad cars were found fully engulfed in flames by a police officer early last Friday morning.
According to a press release, the two squad cars were found fully engulfed in flames on Sept. 14 at 2:52 a.m. The Long Lake Fire Department responded to put out the flames.
Two squad cars, a 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe and a 2009 Dodge Charger, were extensively damage in the fire, and a third had minor damage. The damage estimates are approximately $100,000, which includes the equipment inside.
According to the report, “each squad contained video cameras, computers, radio equipment, rifle, emergency lighting, first aid equipment and other items used daily by the police officers.”
Orono City Administrator Jessica Loftus said that the value of the vehicles and the equipment in them are fully covered by insurance. She said that the city will have to pay a deductible of $2,500.
Long Lake Fire Assistant Chief of Operations DJ Goman said that he arrived at the scene minutes after the call came in, but that the fire was already well under way. He said that about 10 to 15 firefighters were at the scene and that while the main fire was knocked down in about 10 minutes, the department was there for about two hours.
Burning vehicles pose concerns, Goman said, because of the possibility of the gas tanks, bumpers and air bags exploding. The police vehicles created additional worries due to all of the equipment that was inside of them, he said.
Goman said the firefighters took extra care to try to preserve the scene. He said they used a combination of water and foam in an attempt to not wash away any evidence that might have been in the area.
The Orono Police Department said a bottle containing an “accelerant” was found near the scene and is being investigated by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab. The State Fire Marshall’s office is also assisting with the investigation.
Orono Police Department Sergeant Tony Wittke said the department was reviewing multiple sources to gather more information on the incident, including security video footage. He said the department could have a better idea on what happened in the coming weeks.
If anyone has information regarding the fire, they are encouraged to contact the Orono Police Department at (952) 249-4700, or (763) 525-6210 after business hours.