LEWISVILLE, Minn. — A former volunteer firefighter was released from jail Monday after making a court appearance on arson charges and posting a $50,000 bail.
Kyle Wendell Else, who had volunteered at the Lewisville Fire Department, was charged with arson after a second fire at his home within a week immediately came under suspicion, according to a warrant issued for his arrest.
The house belonging to Else was burned on Feb. 11 and again on Feb. 18. The Mankato (Minn.) Free Press reports investigators became skeptical about the second fire because, according to a criminal complaint filed in Blue Earth County District Court, it was unlikely the first fire would have reignited after a week, the weather was extremely cold, and all of the utilities at the house had been disconnected.
Additionally Else, 40, had reported the second fire directly to Lewisville Fire Chief James Poppe instead of calling 911, according to the complaint.
Among several people who told investigators with the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department of their suspicions about the second fire was Else’s girlfriend, identified only by her initials in the complaint. She told detectives Else told her someone broke into the house and stole her jewelry prior to the second fire, and that he had visited his grandmother twice the night of that fire. His grandmother was sleeping during both visits, the girlfriend reported.
The complaint also states that a man who was sent to clean Else's house told investigators Else told him he wanted his insurance company to build him a new house after the first fire.
The state fire marshal investigating the case, Ron Rahman, told a sheriff's deputy he had learned Else had made more than one fire insurance claim in the past; one involved a vehicle, another involved a shed at the same property as the house, and a third involved a rental property in nearby Lake Crystal owned by Else.
When Else was interviewed, he told investigators he suspected the fire had been started by someone else. He initially agreed to take a lie detector test but changed his mind later.
The Mankato (Minn.) Free Press contributed to this story.