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New London, Minn., man pleads to arson for semi blaze

WILLMAR -- Paul Allen Baumann, 23, of New London, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a second-degree arson charge for setting a semi truck on fire in July at the Hillcrest Truck Stop.

As part of a plea agreement in Kandiyohi County District Court, Baumann will receive a stay of imposition on his sentence.

Under the stay, his felony conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor if he complies with the conditions of probation. He will be sentenced Dec. 24.

The charges were filed after the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office was alerted to the fire around 11:20 p.m. July 16.

The responding firefighters moved two semi trucks closest to the burning truck away from the fire and then extinguished the blaze. Investigators found a white antifreeze bottle containing a combustible fuel near the truck. The owner of the truck estimated the value at $40,000.

The owner reported to investigators the next day that Baumann had set the fire after the owner refused to lend him $300. Baumann admitted to taking a jug of gasoline, pouring it on the truck and then setting the fire with a cigarette lighter.

He said he had been drinking and was angry about the refusal to lend the money.

He also showed investigators burns, on his arms, which he said he suffered when he set the blaze.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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