Man charged with arson after apartment fire in Red WingArea News
-- Six people are homeless and one man has been charged with arson following a fire late Friday evening that destroyed a Red Wing apartment building.
By: Sarah Gorvin , Pierce County Herald
RED WING, Minn. -- Six people are homeless and one man has been charged with arson following a fire late Friday evening that destroyed a Red Wing apartment building.
Robert Gene Stevens, 37, was booked into Goodhue County Jail on first-degree arson charges just before 3 a.m. Saturday. He also faces fifth-degree domestic assault, disorderly conduct and terroristic threats charges.
Red Wing police were dispatched to 407 Green St. at about 11:30 p.m. on a report of a physical domestic assault, Police Chief Tim Sletten said.
When officers arrived at the three-unit, three-story apartment building, a resident who lived on the building’s main floor told them he could smell smoke coming from the building’s basement.
After seeing smoke in the basement apartment, officers helped get all of the building’s six occupants outside.
The Red Wing Fire Department was called at about 12:15 a.m., and once on scene, discovered smoke filling the basement apartment and flames coming from a window on the building’s first floor.
“We had fire extending into the first floor shortly after getting on scene,” fire Capt. Scott Danielson said.
Freezing temperatures caused frozen nozzles and ice slicks, making the job difficult for fire crews.
“A lot of firefighters slipped and fell,” Danielson said.
Still, it didn’t affect the outcome of the fire, he said, adding that the building was a total loss.
Christopher Mudgett, the building’s owner and landlord, said Stevens was the boyfriend of a woman who lived in the basement apartment, but he was not on the lease and was not living in the building. Records from the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office indicate Stevens is homeless.
Mudgett said the building’s other tenants included a couple with a young child who lived in the third-story apartment and another couple who lived on the main story.
The Red Cross is assisting those families, said Chris Humble, emergency services director for the Red Cross. All are staying at the Super 8 Hotel and have been provided with necessities including food and clothing.
“This was a pretty tragic deal for them,” Humble said.
Mudgett, who owns more than a dozen other properties across the state, said this is the first time any of his buildings have burned down. He praised the work of the police and fire crews for getting all of the tenants out safely.
“We have some verifiable heroes in our midst in Red Wing,” Mudgett said. “A lot of people just say they’re just doing their jobs, but they do their jobs all the time. This is just another example.”
The state fire marshal is investigating the official cause of the fire and working to determine how and where it started.
Sarah Gorvin is a reporter for the Red Wing Republican-Eagle.