“I know what I saw,” Depuydt said. “I was working under the open overhead door of the shop facing the open road. I could see them between the trees and the wagon.”
He estimates the two boys were between the ages of 10 and 13. He’s offering a $250 reward for anyone who can identify the boys because, if they did start the fire, Depuydt wants them to get help now instead of later.
“I’m not going to move the wagon until these boys are provided help,” he said.
“I’m not asking for pity or anything. I just want people to be aware. I think it’s good to do something instead of nothing.”
Inman said he’s not ruling out the possibility that the fire was started on purpose. There has been one other incident recently where a large metal trash bin caught fire at an apartment complex several blocks away from Depuydt’s house.
Like the hay bales, though, it’s hard to tell for sure if that fire was arson. It’s just as possible that someone accidentally dropped a smoldering cigarette or some other heat source in the bin.
“A cigarette can literally smolder for hours and hours,” Inman said. “At this time we don’t have any reason to believe the fires were anything but an accident.”
However, if the one or both of the fires were arson, it would be better to talk to those responsible sooner rather than later, Inman said. So firefighters and police would like to hear from anyone who has any information about the hay wagon fire.
It was reported at about 5:30 p.m. July 10. Anyone with information can call the North Mankato Police Department at 625-4141 or anonymous tips can be left at email@example.com.