The Gustavian Weekly

St. Peter bowling alley owner admits to accidentally starting fire | The Gustavian Weekly

By Parker Lindberg - Staff Writer | March 13, 2020 | News

As much of the Saint Peter community knows, the KingPins bowling alley, frequented by many Gustavus students, burned down the morning of February 16. Many in the Gustavus community expressed shock and sadness at the news, and many have been anxious to hear about the cause of the incident.
The alley was originally constructed in 1962 and has undergone several renovations since. The bowling alley has been an important part of the community for decades.
At the initial reporting of the incident, no cause of ignition had been identified.
Since then several important pieces of information have come out in the local press regarding the incident.
Dwight Lee Selders, the owner of KingPins since 2014, initially reported that he was not present at the alley the morning of the fire. However, in a March 4 article by the Mankato Free Press, Selders not only admitted to being present, but said that he had started the fire accidentally. He did not explain why he didn’t call 911.
A March 5 article in the St. Peter Herald reported that Selders wife and co-owner of KingPins, Jessica Tonsfeldt, had recently resigned in February after the two had separated. Tonsfeldt said that she had not been at the alley for several days before or during the fire.
The incident is currently being investigated by the Saint Peter Police and the Minnesota Fire Marshal’s Office, as well as the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The Free Press article states that Fire Marshal Office investigator Ron Rahman determined the origin of the fire to likely be one of the pin-setting machines. Their equipment detected the use of a fire accelerant. Additionally, Rahman found evidence that a canister of acetone, a highly flammable substance used to oil the machines, was left open while the fire started.
Selders account of the incident was that he accidentally ignited a rag while attempting to fix one of the pin-setting machines.
Selders also reportedly stated that he saw the glow of a fire behind the pin machine, and then panicked and left the building to go home, turning off the lights and locking the door behind him. Selders did not contact the authorities about the incident.
According to the St. Peter Herald, a witness who had been driving by the scene called in the emergency at about 7 o’clock in the morning. The building continued to catch fire and was eventually declared a total loss after a long effort from the Saint Peter, Kasota and North Mankato Fire Departments, which kept the fire from spreading to any nearby buildings.
According to another March 9 Mankato Free Press article, a new warrant application has been sought to search Selders phone for evidence, including internet searches involving fire accelerants and insurance claims.
As of March 10, neither Selders nor any other party have been charged with any crimes.

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