Police investigate suspicious Southwest fires

A fire in a Lyndale duplex the night of Aug. 13 caused the death of a 55-year-old man.

Police are calling the fire suspicious, police Sgt. Sean McKenna said. Investigations by the Arson Squad indicated the fire was likely started intentionally.

“There’s no reason that a fire should have ignited on the exterior of that home,” McKenna said. “There are simply no accidental causes, so that leaves the act of a human hand.”

The fire at West 31st Street and Pleasant Avenue South started around 10:40 p.m., McKenna said.

After receiving serious burns in the fire, Jeffrey Hall, who escaped from his second-floor space, was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died Friday morning.

Homicide investigators are working on the case. Police believe the first-floor tenant has knowledge of the fire’s cause.

Police are unsure who was in the duplex at the time of the fire. A man on the first floor was arrested outside the house and released later that day, but McKenna said it was unclear whether he was inside during the fire.

Police are also investigating two more suspicious fires in Southwest Minneapolis, both near Lake Harriet.

Witnesses saw three teenage males set fire to a sailboat on the lake around 5 a.m. Aug. 9, McKenna said. And on Aug. 16 at the same time, a portable toilet was burned in the Rose Garden at the north end of the lake.

However, McKenna said the number of fires in Minneapolis is down.

“You tend to see a lot of these vandalism-related type fires in the summertime because it’s nice out, people can be outside more and you have youth that don’t have anything to do,” he said.

Anyone with information about either of the Lake Harriet fires is asked to call Sgt. Sean McKenna of the Minneapolis Arson Squad at 673-3389 or the Arson Hotline at 1-800-723-2020. A reward of up to $2,500 is offered for the arrest and conviction of anyone involved.