DOCUMENT: Bizarre, Crime

Cops: Billy Joel Song Was Arson Soundtrack

"We Didn't Start the Fire" was blaring at scene

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Duluth Arson

MAY 24--The song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” was blasting from inside a Minnesota building that was set ablaze by the landlord, according to police who say the accused arsonist cued up the Billy Joel single while torching the property with his tenants inside.

Investigators allege that Travis Carlson, 37, burned a Duluth duplex last Thursday morning, using gasoline extracted from his car as an accelerant. Carlson, who is being held in the county jail on $75,000 bail, has been charged with arson in the first degree, a felony carrying a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

As detailed in a probable cause statement, Duluth Police Department officers were dispatched to the duplex around 4 AM following a 911 call. When first responders arrived, “they saw the upstairs apartment in flames with ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ blaring from the upstairs apartment."

Carlson, who purchased the building in 2005, lives upstairs and rents out the downstairs space in the property, which was built in 1901.

The downstairs tenant told cops that he was awoken by the sounds of Carlson “smashing glass and breaking things” inside the upstairs unit. A neighbor reported seeing Carlson “wearing a helmet and smashing his own windows” around 3:30 AM. The witness added that he saw Carlson “under his truck with gas cans, going in and out of the house” before seeing “a flash like a fireball come from the upstairs apartment.”

Arson investigators discovered “a drilled hole in the gas tank of the Defendant’s truck” and “lids to gas cans laying on the ground by the truck.” Additionally, a drill was found nearby.

The downstairs tenant told cops that after Carlson laid ruin to his own apartment for 20 minutes, he knocked on the tenant’s door to announce, “The house is on fire.”

Pictured above, Carlson was arrested the following day and was found with “fresh burn injuries to his legs and arms.” While Carlson’s tenants have been displaced from the property (seen below), they were not injured in the blaze. (2 pages)