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Granite Falls, Minnesota, apartment resident charged with setting fires in the building

Four charges of arson in the first degree were filed in Yellow Medicine County District Court against a 56-year-old woman for allegedly setting fires in the six-story apartment building in Granite Falls where she resides.

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GRANITE FALLS — Police in Granite Falls have taken a suspect into custody in connection with a series of fires set in a six-story apartment building in Granite Falls during July.

Brenda Lynn Stang, 56, a resident of the Henry Hill Apartments in Granite Falls, is charged with four felony counts of arson in the first degree and one count of tampering with a fire system.

Custody photo of Brenda Lynn Stang
Brenda Lynn Stang
Contributed / Yellow Medicine County Jail

She appeared Friday afternoon in District Court in Yellow Medicine County. Judge Keith Helgeson set unconditional bail at $100,000 and conditional bail at $25,000. Conditions include that she not enter bars or liquor stores and not use alcohol.

Stang was in custody Friday afternoon in the Yellow Medicine County Jail, according to the online custody roster.

The Granite Falls Police and Fire departments responded to reports of fires inside the first floor of the Henry Hill Apartments on four separate dates in July 2022 — July 1, July 2, July 9 and July 17 — according to a news release from Police Chief Brian Struffert.

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These fires were all started in common areas within the first floor of the building, with one fire being started inside the only elevator.

“Thankfully no one was physically injured as a result of any of these fires,” Struffert stated in the news release.

The 54-unit apartment building was originally designed for senior citizens.

The investigation into the fires and the damages caused by the fires will continue, and additional criminal charges will likely be added, according to the news release.

The Granite Falls Police Department was assisted in the arson investigation by the Granite Falls Fire Department and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office.

According to a criminal complaint filed against Stang, fires were reported in metal garbage containers in bathrooms, the elevator and a back stairwell on separate occasions.

In three of the cases, tenants or others put out the fires before firefighters could respond to the scene. In the other, the fire burned itself out in a bathroom before being discovered.

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A tenant of the building used a fire extinguisher to put out a fire reported at 12:23 a.m. July 9. It started in a garbage can full of newspapers and had apparently spread to a flower arrangement on an end table in a lobby area.

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The tenant afterward observed the defendant sitting outside on a bench “asking what was going on,” according to the complaint.

On July 17, a person reported putting out a fire involving cardboard and other items on the ground behind the building. A woman’s bag was in a shopping cart next to the bin and contained Stang’s pill bottle with her name on it, according to the complaint.

She allegedly admitted to starting the fires when she went to the Granite Falls Police Department on Sept. 1 to speak with an officer. She stated she could not remember starting the trash can fire, but admitted to pulling the fire alarm between Aug. 19 and Aug. 21 “but did not know why she did it,” according to the complaint.

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoors reporter for the West Central Tribune.
He has been a reporter with the West Central Tribune since 1993.

Cherveny can be reached via email at tcherveny@wctrib.com or by phone at 320-214-4335.
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