A Minnesota homeowner reportedly set his property on fire last week to the tune of a well-known Billy Joel song with “fire” in the title.
Travis Lee Carlson, 37, is charged with one count of first-degree arson during the May 18 inferno in Duluth, an industrious midsize port city near the Wisconsin border.
Officers arrived at the West Fourth Street duplex building just after 4 a.m. on the day in question, according to court documents obtained by Minneapolis-based NBC affiliate KARE.
Carlson was charged in state district court on Tuesday, according to the Duluth News Tribune. In comments to the newspaper, St. Louis County District Attorney Vicky Wanta said there may be “mental health or drug-related issues regarding the defendant’s behavior.”
As first responders arrived to fight the blaze, Carlson reportedly played Billy Joel’s song “We Didn’t Start The Fire”.
The song itself is not about an actual fire.
It is a metaphor that refers to the workings of time as modern world history is ruled by newsworthy events that are usually bad, violent, and depressing.
The song’s lyrics during the verses are simply several rhyming names, places, and events that form a chain of flashing images that the author claims mediated the 20th century via ubiquitous crises.
The metaphor is used in the chorus when he sings, “We didn’t light the fire/It was still burning/Since the world turned/We didn’t light the fire/No, we didn’t lit/But we tried to fight it.
According to Joel, he was inspired to write the song when John Lennon’s son Sean Lennon complained about the turmoil of the 1980s and said he wished he had grown up in the 1950s when “nothing happened. passed,” reports Rolling Stone.
The song was released in September 1989 and became a number one single on the Billboard Hot 100. And it was reportedly “brilliant” in Minnesota last week from the upstairs apartment where the fire happened, according to the criminal complaint obtained by various locals. media.
Carlson also allegedly woke up one of the building’s tenants as he was “breaking glass and breaking things” just before the fire, according to the criminal complaint.
After about twenty minutes of this alleged destruction, the owner knocked on the tenant’s door and told him: “the house is on fire”.
A little after 3:30 a.m. that morning, a neighbor called 911 to say he had seen Carlson wearing a helmet and smashing his windows. The neighbor reported that the owner walked in and out of his apartment and under his truck, holding a gas can until he saw what he described as “a flash like a fireball coming from the apartment above”.
Investigators reportedly found a drilled hole in the gas tank of Carlson’s truck, a drill resting next to that hole, gas can lids near the truck, green traces of a burnt-out accelerator throughout his apartment and several wires pulled from an electrical panel in the basement, local NBC/CBS affiliate KBJR reports.
Three people and a cat lived in the building. Residents were not injured by the blaze, authorities said, and neither were firefighters. The tenants, however, are being relocated and receiving aid from the Red Cross, the News Tribune reported.
The accused was arrested the next day with further burns to his arms and legs, various media reported, citing police.
Carlson is being held in the Saint Louis County Jail on $75,000 bond.
Law&Crime contacted a representative for Billy Joel about this story, but no response was immediately received.
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