Victim identified in Viola fire

Viola, MN

OLMSTED CO., Minn — Authorities have released more information into a deadly fire that happened this week.

The Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office says they have identified the victim as 57-year-old Donald Helgerson. Law enforcement believes Helgerson died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

While fighting the fire authorities also found an empty long gun case, so they took proper precautions.

“In today’s world we just wanted to make sure that we had taken appropriate precautions to do what we could to secure that scene and that really meant bringing staff out there that could help us do that in a favorable way,” said Sheriff David Mueller of the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office.

The fire started sometime Wednesday in the small community of Viola, which is near Rochester.

The state fire marshal’s office is still investigating. They are still looking over pieces of the destroyed home to see if there is any reason to believe that the fire was started on purpose.

Helgerson was also part of the Rochester Fire Department for years. Mueller said he resigned a while ago though. That information is likely something the fire marshal’s office will consider during their investigation.

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