MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 20-year-old man is in custody and facing attempted murder charges after a New Year’s Day fire near Bemidji is suspected as arson.

The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office responded, along with the Bemidji Fire Department, to a report of a house fire at about 8:22 p.m. on Jan. 1 on the 700 block of Sunset Way in Northern Township. When authorities and firefighters arrived, they saw flames and heavy black smoke coming from the lower level of the house.

damian smith arson Man Facing Attempted Murder Charges In Beltrami County Arson

(credit: Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office)

Authorities say all of the occupants got out of the residence safely.

A preliminary investigation shows one of the home’s occupants was acting odd and erratic. Authorities took him into custody for his safety.

The man, identified as Damian Patrick Smith, was arrested at the scene. He was treated for smoke inhalation, released and booked into the Beltrami County Jail on suspicion of first-degree arson, first-degree attempted murder and obstruction of the legal process.

The incident remains under investigation by both the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and the State Fire Marshal.

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