MANKATO — A former tenant is suspected of starting a small fire in the laundry room of a Mankato apartment building.

Ashish Puri, 23, was charged with felony counts of arson and property damage Monday in Blue Earth County District Court.

Firefighters and police were called to the apartment building at 255 Briargate Road Saturday afternoon. A burned piece of lumber was found on the laundry room floor. There also was as a hole in the Sheetrock ceiling and the coin mechanisms on the washer and dryer were damaged.

A witness reported seeing Puri pull the washer and dryer away from the wall shortly before the fire. The witness said Puri was a former tenant and was believed to be squatting on the property.

Another witness reported seeing a man matching Puri’s description banging on a soda machine in the laundry room around the time of the fire.

Officers found Puri on the property with a lighter and paper that was “rolled up into a fuse-style tube,” the court complaint said.

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