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WILLMAR -- A semi tractor hauling an empty fuel tanker caught fire Thursday afternoon about a mile north of Willmar on U.S. Highway 71.

The rear dual brakes on the tractor caught on fire, according to Willmar Fire Chief Marv Calvin. The fire caused one of the tires to blow out.

The tanker was disengaged and moved away from the fire and the driver used fire extinguishers on the blaze before fire-fighters arrived.

Crews from the Willmar Fire Department finished putting out the fire, said Calvin. They were on the scene for about an hour.

The semi was going south on Highway 71 shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday to pick up a load of ethanol when the fire happened.

Calvin said it's important that motorists remember to move to the other lane when they see emergency vehicles on the road.

Willmar man arrested in Litchfield drug raid

LITCHFIELD -- A drug raid at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Litchfield netted nearly half-pound of methamphetamine. Two people, including a Willmar resident, were arrested

According to the Litchfield Police Department, department, the CEE-VI Drug Task Force and the Southwest Metro Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at an apartment on West Third Street.

About 200 grams of meth was found, as well as drug paraphernalia, packaging supplies and cash.

A 27-year-old man from Willmar and a 22-year-old woman from Litchfield were arrested and are being held in the Meeker County Jail on controlled substance crimes charges.

The search warrant was part of an on-going investigation into the trafficking of illegal drugs. More arrests are possible.

KAT bus involved in accident

WILLMAR -- A Kandiyohi Area Transit bus was involved with a minor property damage accident Thursday morning.

According to the initial report, a car collided with the bus at 8:11 a.m. on 10th Street Northwest and Gorton Avenue.

The bus had minor damage and was able to be driven away, according to KAT Transit Director Tiffany Collins. No one on the bus was injured.

Fight at high school

WILLMAR -- A Willmar police officer was shoved and fell to the floor Wednesday as he was attempting to break up a fight between two students.

An 18-year-old male student who shoved the officer was restrained by a second officer and arrested.

The incident happened around 1 p.m. when officers on duty at the school responded to a report of a fight between a 19-year-old female and a 15-year-old female. As one of the officers tried to get through the throng of students, the male student shoved the officer, who then fell. The second officer restrained the male student, who was taken to jail.

Semi loses tires

WILLMAR -- A semi going north on U.S. Highway 71 Thursday morning was losing tires from the back end of the trailer. The rear doors of the trailer had come open and tires were falling onto the road. When deputies arrived, the driver was securing the doors and was going to retrieve the tires that had been lost.


WILLMAR -- Four tires on a vehicle were slashed in the 500 block of Ann Street Southeast sometime late Wednesday night. Another individual reported that two tires on a vehicle had been slashed late Wednesday night in the 1400 block of 19th Avenue Southeast.


WILLMAR -- A blue Huffy bike was reported stolen at 5:13 p.m. Wednesday in the 1400 block of Lakeland Drive Northeast. A red Murray bike was reported stolen Thursday morning in the 300 block of Fourth Street Southwest.

District Court

Kandiyohi County

- Travis Charles Berends, 19, of Atwater pleaded guilty Thursday to an amended burglary charge in connection with a theft Nov. 10.

He also pleaded guilty to a minor traffic violation in connection with a one-vehicle accident five days later that seriously injured three passengers and linked him to the burglary.

According to the complaint, Berends had a blood alcohol level of 0.17 on Nov. 15 when the vehicle he was driving rolled several times. One of the passengers, Sasha Delagarza, was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Another passenger, Cody Ledeboer, had seven broken ribs, a bruised heart, a punctured lung and numerous cuts.

Berends pleaded guilty to one charge of not having insurance on a vehicle.

Seven other charges, including two counts of criminal vehicular homicide or injury and charges of driving while impaired, were dismissed.

Evidence in the car at the accident scene linked him to a burglary of an Atwater home.

Another passenger involved with the accident, John Springer, was also with Berends during the burglary, according to the complaint.

Berends will be sentenced July 16.

- Jose Angel Quilantan, 32, of Pennock, was sentenced Thursday to 23 months in prison on a felony charge of wrongfully obtaining assistance - theft and perjury. The sentence will be stayed for seven years.

He was also ordered to serve 86 days in the county jail, which he has completed.

Quilantan was ordered to pay restitution of $6,239 and will be on supervised probation for seven years.

Quilantan had pleaded guilty earlier this month to the perjury charge in connection with using another individual's social security number to gain employment. He also pleaded guilty to getting $6,239 in public assistance that he wasn't eligible to receive.

According to the complaint, Nadia Italia Martinez applied for assistance for herself and three children. She listed Quilantan as a resident of the household, and the father of the children, who was in the country illegally and therefore not entitled to assistance. However, he was employed and his income should have been reported.