Update: One Charged with Arson Following Bemidji Fire
A Bemidji man is charged with felony arson in connection to a fire on January 27.
According to the criminal complaint, Ray Parsons, 34, allegedly set fire to the one-story mobile home. Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report of Parsons causing property damage to the home at about 1:15 p.m. on Friday, January 27. Upon arriving on the scene, deputies witnessed Parsons walk down the driveway of the mobile home, wielding two stainless steel knives.
Parsons reportedly waived the knives at the responding deputy while they were attempting to speak with him. The criminal complaint states Parsons said, “I will kill you guys,” while being within about 12 to 15 feet of the deputy. Parsons then entered the mobile home and locked the door, despite the deputy’s words of warning to not enter the home.
Moments later, the deputy reports that smoke started to emerge from the structure. The Minnesota Fire Marshal’s Office’s official report states Parsons intentionally set the fire. The fire is believed to exceed more than $1,000 in damages.
Parsons was arrested soon after. He is currently held in the Beltrami County Jail.
Parsons is facing two felony charges. The first is arson of a building in the second degree resulting in $1,000 or more in damages. The maximum sentence for this charge is 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine or both. The second charge is for terroristic threats in reckless disregard for risk. This charge carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.
A residential structure in Bemidji was deemed a total loss after a fire on Friday, January 27.
According to the press release, Bemidji firefighters were alerted of a fire at a single-story home along Roosevelt Road in Bemidji at 1:47 p.m. on Friday. Upon arriving to the scene, firefighters saw the structure fully engulfed in flames. They entered a defensive mode due to the intensity of it. Firefighters worked to subdue the flames for about four-and-a-half hours with 21 crew members and seven pieces of equipment on the scene.
The structure and its contents were considered a total loss. Bemidji Fire Chief Justin Sherwood said the fire is under investigation due to being suspicious in nature.
The Bemidji Fire Department was assisted on the scene by the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, Bemidji Ambulance Services, Beltrami Electric, Minnesota Energy, and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Editor’s note: this story was updated on 1/30/23 with new details from the criminal complaint.
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