Iron Range man charged with setting wildfire
VIRGINIA, MN. (Northern News Now) - An Iron Range man has been charged with allegedly starting a wildfire.
Ernest Grant Carlson, 56, was charged in St. Louis County Court with two counts for wildfire arson and fifth-degree arson.
On Friday, May 5, 2023, at approximately 11:47 a.m. an officer was dispatched to a grass fire behind Super One Liquor in Virginia.
According to court documents, the fire had been discovered very quickly and was contained by City of Virginia employees using a city water truck.
A short time later, a police officer received a direct call from a City of Virginia employee, who stated he was part of the city crew that discovered the fire.
It is stated during that time there was a man in the immediate area who was described as being in his 60s wearing a brown jacket and tan pants.
Police then drove to the area and saw a man matching the description, who they recognized from prior contact as Carlson.
When they were able to make contact with him police could smell smoke on his clothing and observed burn marks on both of his shoes.
Carlson also had ash on his hands and other parts of his clothing.
He admitted to police that he started the fire because he was curious and stated, “I just wanted to see it burn.”
Carlson said he gathered a small pile of sticks and used a lighter to start them on fire.
At this time the wind was blowing from the east/northeast at 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 35 mph.
In addition, the fire danger was moderate and burning permits were required.
Carlson also stated the fire quickly got out of control and he attempted to stop it out with his shoes.
Then, he gave police the BIC lighter he used to start the fire.
The burn area was stated to be approximately 20 feet by 40 feet.
Carlson is now facing up to five years and 90 days in prison and up to $11,000 in fines.
His next court appearance is set for May 22.
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