MADELIA, Minn. (KMSP) - A 42-year-old man is being charged for interfering with efforts to fight a massive fire that destroyed at least eight business in downtown Madelia, Minn. on Feb. 3.
The fire broke out around 2:30 a.m. after an explosion in one of the buildings. The Madelia Fire Department established a one-block perimeter around the area to prevent the public from getting too close to the fire.
BACKGROUND - Main Street fire in Madelia, Minn. destroys nearly 10 businesses
According to the charges, Bryce Weiss entered the area without being seen by law enforcement and tried to help move vehicles and equipment. He also took several photos of the fire and sent them news agencies and posted them on Youtube.
Weiss then began talking with the Madelia fire chief, explaining to him how to fight the fire. He was also reportedly trying to talk to firefighters from other area fire departments.
Weiss was told several times to leave the area, which he eventually did.
At 6:50, the police chief saw a vehicle with its headlights off pull out of the driveway of Weiss’s house and drive towards a street that was closed for the fire. The vehicle tried to squeeze past a squad car with flashing lights that was intentionally keeping traffic from entering the street.
A police officer attempted to get the driver, later identified as Weiss, to turn around, but the vehicle continued moving forward. Weiss stopped the vehicle once it made it past the squad car and into the scene of the fire.
An officer noticed an open container of Natural Ice beer in the center console of the vehicle. Weiss was asked to get out of the vehicle and was subsequently arrested.
According to the charges, Weiss smelled of alcohol and was causing safety issues for both himself and the firefighters attempting to fight the massive fire. He had a blood alcohol content of .08.
Weiss is being charged with driving under the influence, driving with an open container, driving around a barricade and trespassing.