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Sheriff: 'Strong possibility' of connection between St. Croix County fire, auto theft

Charred vehicles were among debris left behind after a fire May 11 at 404 County Road J in the town of Pleasant Valley. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia

Crews from multiple agencies responded early Friday to a fire in rural St. Croix County — just minutes before a car was reported stolen at a nearby property.

Firefighters were called at 4:34 a.m. May 11 to 404 County Road J in the town of Pleasant Valley, about 10 miles northeast of River Falls.

No details were immediately available. Google Maps imagery indicates a house once stood on the property; charred remains seen from the road Friday included two vehicles among the debris.

A deputy on scene said access to the property was restricted since it was a crime scene. Dispatch records indicated a theft was reported at 5:18 a.m. Friday at 461 County Road J — about a half-mile north of the fire.

St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said that report was a vehicle theft that resulted in a pursuit into Pierce County, where a suspect was arrested.

“We are looking to a strong possibility that these two are connected,” Knudson said of the fire and the theft. “However, all scenes remain active.”

He said the state fire marshal’s office was called to the scene as well.

Firefighters from River Falls, Woodville, Hammond, and Roberts responded to the call.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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