FOREST LAKE, Minn. (AP) - A mansion under construction on the
shore of Forest Lake turned heads while it was being built. It was
still turning heads on Sunday, as gawkers took in the smoldering
pile of ashes that were the remains of the dream home for A. Oscar
and Valerie Carlson of Anoka.
The state fire marshal's office and the federal Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were investigating the
fire that destroyed the home early Saturday. No one was injured.
Some fire officials said the blaze did not appear to be
suspicious.
But Rick Kleis, chief investigator with the state Fire Marshal's
office, said an environmental group may have "possibly had some
involvement in some type of phone contacts or phone messaging about
the size of the structure, the cost of the structure, and how that
may effect the environment around the lake and in the community."
The home had been featured in a story in the weekly Forest Lake
Press, and the Carlsons told KSTP-TV off-camera that they believed
the publicity may have played a roll in the fire.
Oscar Carlson is the founder and chairman of American Spirit
Graphics of Minneapolis.
Estimates for the value of the home ranged from $4.5 million to
$6 million. Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Wightman said the house had
been under construction since May 2002.
The house featured a room devoted to big game, a greenhouse, an
elaborate theater system, several decks overlooking the lake and a
great room featuring a three-story circular stairway, he said. A
semitrailer full of rose bushes and other shrubs had just been
delivered to the site on Friday; leaves from the new plants were
dry, brown and curled after the fire.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)