Pine Island, MN (KROC-AM News)- A fire that broke out near Oronoco Saturday night is the third abandoned structure in the area to be torched in the last two weeks.

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Olmsted County Sheriff’s Captain James Schueller says all three of the fires occurred within a five-mile radius, a pattern he calls “suspicious.” Saturday’s fire broke out in the 12,000 block of 44th Ave. Northwest in Oronoco Township shortly before 11 p.m. 

A neighbor who called in Saturday's fire reported hearing loud popping sounds and the sound of a car engine and tires driving away on gravel before they saw the flames, Schueller said. Investigators learned the owner of the abandoned property lives in Red Wing. 

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Schueller said the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office attempted to call the owner and that the Red Wing police went to the owner’s home, but neither agency made contact with the owner. Red Wing officers reportedly saw the lights on and a vehicle in the driveway of the property owner’s Red Wing residence. 

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It wasn’t the first time this year law enforcement had been dispatched to the abandoned house. Schueller said deputies responded to the home on June 9 on the report of several ATV’s and lights on the vacant property. Deputies did not locate anyone or anything at the property that day. 

 A firefighter brought to St. Mary’s Hospital after fighting Saturday’s blaze has since been released. The Minnesota State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause of the fire. 

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