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Bismarck man suspected of starting apartment fire after boiling oil to ward off alleged gangsters

The cause of the fire is under investigation, according to the Bismarck Fire Department.

FSA Apartment fire.jpg
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BISMARCK — An apartment fire early Thursday, Sept. 30, resulted in the arrest of a Bismarck man who boiled cooking oil, allegedly to throw on gang members he believed were trying to enter his apartment, according to police.

Justin Linder, 33, was booked into the Burleigh Morton Detention Center on suspicion of endangering residents with a fire in the 2700 block of East Hawken Street, Bismarck police said in a statement.

No residents of the 24-unit, three-story apartment complex were injured, and they were able to return home after the fire was extinguished. The fire caused more than $2,000 in damage to the apartment where the fire started, and no other units sustained damage, authorities said.

Bismarck police and firefighters responded to the complex at about 5:10 a.m. Thursday after emergency dispatchers received numerous calls about a fire.

When the first fire crew arrived, residents were evacuating the complex and firefighters spotted smoke coming from the north side of the building. The fire was found in the kitchen of a third-story apartment and was quickly extinguished, according to fire officials.

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"During evacuation of residents, Linder was located on a balcony and firefighters evacuated him from his apartment. Through investigation, it was determined that Linder allegedly boiled cooking oil to throw on gang members that were trying to enter his apartment," police said in their statement.

On Wednesday, the night before the fire, Bismarck police were dispatched to Linder's apartment at about 8:50 p.m. on a report of three to four gang members allegedly trying to gain access to his third-floor balcony.

"Officers were unable to locate or find evidence that this occurred," police said.

The cause of Thursday's fire is under investigation, according to the Bismarck Fire Department.

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