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Dakota Farm Equipment fire in Elgin

Dakota Farm Equipment in Elgin was destroyed in a fire set on Dec. 31. 

Submitted by Laura Zimmerman, of Elgin

An Elgin volunteer firefighter is charged in connection to multiple structure fires last winter, including a totaled John Deere dealership.

John Iszler, 25, is charged with three felony counts of endangering by fire or explosion and one of criminal mischief. Court documents say he told Grant County Sheriff John Foss he lit fires in Elgin and around rural Grant County, including three grassfires from April 18-25. Foss confirmed Iszler is a volunteer firefighter of the Elgin Fire Department.

Three structures in Elgin were consumed in fires attributed to Iszler, including a detached garage on Dec. 24, Dakota Farm Equipment on Dec. 31 and an apartment complex on Feb. 25. Court documents say a woman's life was endangered in the apartment building fire.

Foss declined to say if Iszler responded to any of the fires he is charged with starting.

"I really don’t want to release that right now," the sheriff said. "Trying to be careful because the case keeps on developing."

Since the fire, Dakota Farm Equipment has found temporary facilities. Mike Ballard, co-owner of Dakota Farm Equipment, said the family-owned business is up and running in spaces near the old shop and on Elgin's Main Street.

"We're at least back in business," he said, adding he learned of Iszler's arrest a week ago.

Foss met Iszler on May 1, when Iszler was at the sheriff’s office for a voluntary polygraph with the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Court documents say Iszler told the sheriff he started some of the fires, mostly with aerosol cleaner, because he was “stressed out over a person texting and calling him.”

The grassfires were reportedly at the Sheep Creek Recreation Area and along rural roads off state highways 21 and 49.

Iszler is held at the Burleigh-Morton County Detention Center, pending $100,000 cash bond.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or


Crime and Courts Reporter