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A Moorhead (Minn.) firefighter uses a saw to cut into the door of a burning building Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, in Dilworth. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Moorhead man faces felony charge linked to shop fire in which Dilworth firefighter had heart attack

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DILWORTH – A shop fire here that sent a volunteer firefighter to the hospital with a heart attack has led to criminal charges against the man accused of starting it by not following fire code regulations for welding.

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Bradley Harold Littlefield, 59, of Moorhead, is charged in Clay County District Court with two counts of negligently causing fires resulting in great bodily harm. One count is a felony, the other a misdemeanor. A conviction on the felony charge could lead to up to five years in prison.

Dilworth firefighters responded at about 11:10 a.m. on Nov. 28 to a burning building at 844 Center Ave. W. to find black smoke pouring from the building, with a Public Works employee trying to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher.

According to a complaint filed Wednesday, Littlefield, who said he was the owner of the shop, told firefighters on the scene he’d made a mistake and was welding a metal rack when a spark ignited a bucket of lacquer.

Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist closed Highway 10 because the dense smoke was affecting visibility, and many firefighters suffered nausea, dizziness and headaches from the toxic fumes, according to the complaint.

Dilworth firefighter Michael Brendemuhl was taken to Sanford Medical Center for what was originally reported as smoke inhalation, but was later determined to be a heart attack. He required two heart stents.

An investigation by the state fire marshal determined Littlefield had been working in a paint shop with no sprinkler system, welding in an area used for paint spraying and with lights in the paint booth powered by wiring that wasn’t in conduit, among other fire code violations alleged in court records.

Littlefield’s first court appearance is set for May 9.

Emily Welker, Inforum

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