Duluth property owner charged with arson
A Lincoln Park landlord is facing charges after allegedly pouring gasoline in his own duplex and setting it on fire. He then blasted Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” while waiting for crews to respond.
Travis Lee Carlson, 37, was charged with first-degree arson on Tuesday following the fire at 2402 W. Fourth St. according to records, Carlson owns the duplex and is said to have alerted other residents before leaving.
The fire was first reported in Carlson’s upstairs unit just after 4 a.m. He had left by the time responders arrived, but the Billy Joel chart-topper was heard blasting from the flames.
A downstairs tenant reported that he awoke around 3:30 a.m. and heard Carlson “smashing glass and breaking things” before the landlord knocked on his door and told him, “The house is on fire.”
A neighbor also called 911 saying that he saw Carlson wearing a helmet and smashing his own windows around the same time. The neighbor told investigators he saw Carlson under his truck with gas cans, going in and out of the house before he saw flames coming from the upstairs apartment. According to the criminal complaint, police found a hole in the gas tank of Carlson’s truck, with a drill and gas can lids on the ground nearby.
Carlson was arrested by the Duluth Police Department the next day. He has several prior convictions for impaired driving and remains on supervised probation. If convicted of his arson charges, Carlson could face over four years in prison.
St. Louis County prosecutor Vicky Wanta noted that there may be “some mental health or drug-related concerns regarding the defendant’s behavior.” Judge David Johnson granted Wanta’s request to set bail at $75,000.
The Duluth Fire Department said that no injuries were reported to other occupants of the duplex or responders. Those displaced by the fire were receiving assistance from the American Red Cross. Damage to the duplex and its contents was estimated at around $25,000.