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Two brothers free on bonds after being charged with causing fire at meat plant

Two brothers are free on signature bonds after appearing in court Thursday on charges connected with the July 5 blaze at the Patrick Cudahy meat plant.

Kurtis Popp, 25, of Milwaukee and Joshua Popp, 23, of Twentynine Palms, Calif., are both charged with second-degree felony reckless endangerment.

They're due back in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on Tuesday, when a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to order a trial.

Authorities said a military-grade flare caused the blaze that took three days to put out, destroyed a quarter of the Patrick Cudahy plant, caused more than $50 million in damage, forced thousands to evacuate, and put 1,800 people out of work for at least a week.

According to prosecutors, Joshua Popp took the military-grade flare while serving in the Marines a couple years ago.

They were apparently going to launch the flare and other fireworks on July 4, but they knew it irritated the neighbors so they waited until the next day.

Kurtis Popp told investigators he thought the flare might have caused the blaze, but he didn't want to believe it.

And even after the cause was revealed, the brothers didn't immediately come forward because they were afraid.

Attorneys for both said they're extremely sorry and remorseful.