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Cloquet house fire was arson

An arson fire caused $80,000 in damage to a home in Cloquet on Monday. The home at 1566 Whispering Pine Drive had been vacant, but new tenants were slated to move in next week, according to Cloquet Police Detective Darrin Berg, who is investigati...

An arson fire caused $80,000 in damage to a home in Cloquet on Monday.

The home at 1566 Whispering Pine Drive had been vacant, but new tenants were slated to move in next week, according to Cloquet Police Detective Darrin Berg, who is investigating the crime with Fond du Lac Police Detective Russ Rule.

Evidence collected at the scene clearly dictated arson, Cloquet fire investigator Capt. Gordy Meagher said.

Investigators believe the fire was set sometime between 4 and 6:30 a.m. Monday. Although significant damage was done to the home's interior which had recently been remodeled, firefighters reportedly were able to get the fire under control quickly.

No one was injured in the fire and so far no one has been arrested.

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Investigators believe a drive-by shooting in March could be a link to the motive, however, and they are following leads to that effect, Berg said.

The burned house is where four teens were arrested and a .22-caliber handgun was found shortly after the shooting, which took place at 1560 Whispering Pine Drive. No one was injured in the shooting, although one of the bullets narrowly missed a 16-year-old girl inside the house. At least four bullets were found in the house and one was found nearby in a tree.

One 17-year-old was charged with a felony in the case and his case has moved through the court system, according to Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler.

The other three males involved, including two adults and another juvenile, have not yet been charged. Pertler said Tuesday he continues to wait for ballistics tests related to the investigation before determining if criminal charges are warranted for the others.

The family living at the burned house at the time of the arrests was evicted shortly thereafter, Berg said. Although he does not believe the homeowner set fire to the house, they are investigating whether the incidents are connected.

"Some people have come forward with information that is quite promising," Berg said.

Anyone with information about the arson is asked to call the Cloquet Police Department at 218-879-1247 or the Fond du Lac Tribal Police Department at 218-878-8040.

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