Charges filed in house-burning case in Sargeant

By Tim Ruzek

A Brownsdale man has been cited for allegedly setting fire earlier this month to an abandoned, uninsured home on his father’s property in Sargeant Township.

Ryan Thomas Knutson, 48, faces three misdemeanor counts in Mower District Court of burning prohibited materials, burning without a permit and burning of a structure without a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources permit.

According to a Mower County Sheriff’s Department report, a deputy saw a large amount of thick, black smoke rising about 9:50 p.m. July 8 from an area in Sargeant Township.


The deputy found a two-story residential structure engulfed in flames at 65253 320th Street, a property owned by Knutson’s father Neil Knutson, 74, of Brownsdale, the report says.

The home’s north end had collapsed, and flames were reaching 30 feet high.

Hayfield firefighters gained access after the deputy removed a locked padlock on the property’s gate.

Shingling material still was on the home’s roof, and several cut branches and yard waste were inside, according to the report.

Neil Knutson told the deputy the home had no value and had been abandoned for the past eight years, the report says.

Ryan Knutson, who is to appear in court Aug. 3, told the deputy he picked up downed tree limbs earlier that day and piled them inside the abandoned home, the report says. Ryan Knutson allegedly said he then lit the wood and house on fire, saying he didn’t know he needed a permit or that there were materials there prohibited for burning.

The report says Ryan Knutson apologized and said he should’ve called authorities before the fire.

Hayfield firefighters put out the blaze.

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