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Cops: Billy Joel Song ‘We Didn't Start the Fire’ Was Soundtrack From Minnesota Man’s Arson Attack

we didnt start the fire playing during minnesota mans arson attack
Source: Duluth Police Department; Unsplash

May 26 2023, Published 2:57 p.m. ET

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A Minnesota landlord allegedly set his own property ablaze with his tenants inside while blaring the song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” from the top floor, according to authorities.

Around 4 a.m. on May 18, officers were dispatched to a duplex in Duluth after receiving a 911 call, according to The Smoking Gun.

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At the scene, officers found the upstairs apartment in flames and “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel blaring from the unit, officials said.

Investigators determined 37-year-old Travis Carlson purchased the building in 2005. He lives upstairs and rents out the property's bottom apartment.

Police talked to the downstairs tenant, who said he was awoken by the sounds of Carlson “smashing glass and breaking things” inside the upstairs unit, The Smoking Gun reported.

A neighbor told authorities they saw Carlson “wearing a helmet and smashing his own windows” around 3:30 a.m. They also saw Carlson “under his truck with gas cans, going in and out of the house” before they saw “a flash like a fireball come from the upstairs apartment,” according to The Smoking Gun.

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During their investigation, arson investigators said they found a “drilled hole in the gas tank” of Carlson’s truck and “lids to gas cans lying on the ground by the truck.” They also found a drill nearby, according to authorities.

After about 20 minutes of Carlson smashing glass and setting his own place on fire, the downstairs tenant said Carlson knocked on his door and warned, “The house is on fire,” The Smoking Gun reported.

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Carlson, who had “fresh burn injuries to his legs and arms,” was arrested and booked into the St. Louis County jail.

He was charged with first-degree arson and is being held on $75,000 bond.

Carlson’s tenants were not injured in the fire, but they were displaced from the property, officials said.


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