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Man accused of setting North Dakota jail on fire faces federal charge

Adam Prochnow was in custody at the Cass County Jail after he allegedly set off an explosive in the entrance of the Richland County Jail.

Adam James Prochnow.
Richland County Jail photo
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FARGO — A 24-year-old man accused of starting a southeast North Dakota jail on fire now faces a federal charge.

Adam James Prochnow appeared Tuesday, March 22, in North Dakota’s U.S. District Court on an arson charge.

Court documents that were unsealed Tuesday alleged he used fire and explosive materials on March 1 to “maliciously” damage or destroy the Richland County Law Enforcement Center in Wahpeton, a jail that gets federal financial assistance.

Federal court documents did not give specifics of the incident, but a criminal complaint filed in Richland County District Court alleged Prochnow lit a cylindrical container in the entrance of the Richland County Jail. He then ran before the container exploded, court documents said.

The fire caused heavy smoke damage, but investigators said it was meant to cause more damage.


Prochnow barricaded himself in his Fairmount, North Dakota, home for five hours as law enforcement surrounded his house on March 3. He eventually surrendered and has been in custody at the Cass County Jail since his arrest.

The Richland County State's Attorney dismissed its case against Prochnow on Monday, making way for federal prosecution.

Lisa Michelle Koehmstedt, 51, appeared Friday, Sept. 30, in Cass County District Court on a felony charge of theft. She could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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