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Firefighters from the Wadena Fire Department ensure a grass fire southeast of Wadena near 130th Street is completely extinguished. Kenneth J. Derby of Wadena later admitted to intentionally starting the fire and was arrested on the charge of wildfire arson.

Wadena man admits to setting wildfires

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Kenneth J. Derby, 57, Wadena, was arrested and booked into the Wadena County Jail Tuesday pending charges of felony wildfire arson, according to a press release by the Wadena County Sheriff’s Office.

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Derby was arrested following a 5:43 p.m. grass fire call in Wadena Township near 130th Street last Tuesday. The release said the sheriff’s office and the Wadena Fire Department had previously responded to multiple fire calls in the same area; both in 2012 and in the past week.

After calling in Wednesday’s fire Derby was brought to the sheriff’s office for questioning. During the interview, he admitted to purposefully igniting the fires, then walking back to his house and reporting the same fires he himself had set.

According to a criminal complaint filed May 1 in Seventh Judicial District Court, Derby was charged with Wildfire Arson – Setting Wildfires, a felony offense which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. Derby “said he lit the fires because he likes having law enforcement and fire trucks come to the scene,” the complaint noted.

Wadena Pioneer Journal

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