Posted Online: Feb. 02, 2013, 5:55 pm

Man pleads guilty to misdemeanor for starting Marshall Island fire

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By Rachel Warmke, rwarmke@qconline.com

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Kenneth P. Verkruysse, 89, of 1320 2nd St. South, Cordova
Kenneth P. Verkruysse, 89, of Cordova, pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property for setting fire to Marshall Island, and was ordered to forfeit the flare gun he apparently used to start the blaze.

He was also sentenced, by Judge F. Michael Meersman, to serve 18 months of court supervision and pay $500 in restitution, court records indicated.

A felony count of arson was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Mr. Verkruysse was charged in Rock Island County Circuit Court after using a flare gun Dec. 14 to set fire to prairie grass on the island, located on the Mississippi River near the south end of Cordova.

The blaze was extinguished by area fire departments and no one was injured, but the fire caused at least $300 worth of damage, including nearly burning down a duck blind belonging to the island's owner.

The prairie grass is home to a number of wildlife fowl, including upland game birds, pheasants and quail, said Sgt. Laura Petreikis, of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.