HALLOCK, Minn.-A Hallock business owner is facing charges after police said they suspect she may have burned her restaurant in order to cash in on an insurance claim.
Tamara Marie Devore, 50, Kennedy, Minn., is facing felony charges of arson and insurance fraud.
A criminal complaint said customers narrowly escaped the Caribou Grill on Feb. 21 as heavy, toxic smoke made its way through the restaurant about 10:24 p.m.
The fire started in a storage room on the east side of the building, the complaint said. However, there were no accidental ignition sources near the fire's origin or any reason there would have been an appliance or tool of any sort that produced heat or flames to be in the area, according to the complaint.
Video surveillance allegedly showed Devore, the restaurant owner, leaving the storage room and, about a minute later, heavy smoke is seen pouring from the room and obscuring the camera. A bar customer called 911 immediately, the complaint said.
Investigators said the fire would have had to be burning while Devore was in the storage room for the expansion to happen so rapidly and no one else was near the room for more than a half hour before the blaze began.
Devore allegedly contacted her insurance agent after the fire to file a claim regarding the damage. The complaint said the claim was more than $35,000.
If convicted, Devore could face up to 20 years in prison on each charge. She is scheduled to appear in court again March 18.