Man accused of starting North Fargo house fire facing multiple charges

Tate Smith–Nerlien was arrested Thursday morning

FARGO, N.D. — Tribecca Corporation Supervisor Jack Wilson had an out–of–the–ordinary awakening at 2:00 Thursday morning, when his security alarm system went off.

“I checked it to see a couple individuals in my trailer. I then said, ‘I’m calling the cops. They’re on their way,’ and then I called the cops.” And I guess they didn’t take my warning because they were still here when the officers got here,” said Wilson.

He’s talking about 26–year–old Tate Smith–Nerlien and 24–year–old Darci Elis, both arrested on charges of burglary, after allegedly breaking into several Tribecca semi–trailers.

But police say that’s not the only crime Smith–Nerlien is in jail for.

Authorities had been looking for him after the North Fargo home he lived in with his mother broke out in flames Tuesday night.

“When I came outside, actually, our entire block was closed off, like all the way down the streets, and you could just see smoke pouring out the windows, and so it was just, it was crazy, actually,” neighbor Taylor Olson said.

Police say they have probable cause to believe Smith–Nerlien was the one who started the fire.

He’s facing charges of arson, burglary and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Neighbors describe him and Elis as quiet people who stuck to themselves.

“We always would see their animals running around, and their dogs, and we’ve caught them in our yard a couple times and brought them back, and they’ve never really said anything to us, even when we’d bring their animals back, so it was just kind of a weird situation, and now we hear about what happened, and it’s just a sad deal,” said Olson.

All three of their pets, one dog and two cats, died in the fire.

Olson says he’s lived in North Fargo all his life, and over the past 23 years, it’s felt like unusual activity has been on the rise in his neighborhood.

“It’s a lot different than it used to be, with the people and it’s, I think drugs are playing a big part in that.”

Although no one was injured in the fire, the house is deemed unsafe to enter.

Smith–Nerlien’s preliminary hearing will take place on Friday, November 1st.

Categories: Crime, Local News, North Dakota News