“You want to see some excitement? I’m going to start a fire!” Glendale brothers accused of setting several fires

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GLENDALE (WITI) -- FOX6 News has learned two Glendale men have been arrested and charged in connection with several fires in the Rivers Edge subdivision -- one of which resulted in the destruction of a vehicle.

44-year-old Michael Balsamo faces a felony charge of arson of a property other than a building.

36-year-old Anthony Balsamo faces three misdemeanor counts of negligent handling of burning material.

Police say both of the men live in the Rivers Edge subdivision. They are brothers.

Glendale police were able to identify the men through an extensive investigation of several suspicious fires that occurred in the subdivision.

Police say the brothers set five fires between June 3rd and June 9th -- one of them in their own backyard.

The criminal complaint filed against Michael Balsamo says on June 9th, around 5:00 a.m., police were dispatched to a fire in the 2100 block of West Skyline Road in Glendale.

Michael Balsamo

Michael Balsamo

Upon arriving at the scene, police observed a Jeep on fire.

Police observed a Menards brand paper yard waste bag that was full of leaves under the Jeep -- which appeared to have been set on fire.

The complaint says the Jeep's owner's insurance company determined the Jeep to be a total loss -- and issued a payment in excess of $11,000.

The complaint says police interviewed Michael Balsamo regarding this fire -- and he told them he and his brother, Anthony Balsamo were on their way home from Topper's Pizza on the East Side during the early morning hours of June 9th.

The complaint says Michael Balsamo was driving one car, and Anthony Balsamo was following in another.

The complaint says Michael Balsamo told police he started the Jeep on fire -- using the paper yard waste bag.

The complaint says Michael Balsamo told police he and Anthony Balsamo went home and stood on their porch for awhile -- before driving back past the Jeep.

Then, Michael Balsamo says the two went home and went to bed, according to the complaint.

FOX6 News spoke with Carla Schumann, who lives in the subdivision and saw this fire.

"The neighbors were telling us that there's an arsonist. The car across the street in the driveway was burned to a crisp. We thought this was a fairy safe neighborhood!" Schumann said.

The complaint against Michael Balsamo says he was convicted of a felony offense of retail theft, greater than $5,000 and less than $10,000 in 2010.


The complaint against Anthony Balsamo says on June 3rd, around 6:15 a.m., Glendale police were dispatched to a home in the 2400 block of West Woodbury Lane for a fire call.

Anthony Balsamo

Anthony Balsamo

The complaint says the homeowner told police he had placed four mattresses, three box springs, a storm door, a carpet and a headboard and mattress for a waterbed at the end of his driveway for pickup.

The complaint says the man came outside on the morning of June 3rd and saw his items burning.

Fire Department personnel who responded to this fire told police it was burning for awhile, as it had singed a tree above.

The complaint says Fire Department personnel also observed a green plastic newspaper mailbox affixed to a wooden post near the burned items had been melted due to the heat of the fire.

FOX6 News spoke with the man who found the fire in his driveway.

"It's very unsettling. It was just glowing embers and smoking," Bruce Resnick said.

Resnick's driveway remains scorched black.

"It's not what you expect when you come out to get your paper in the morning. The tree is scorched pretty well, that caught fire. There's a line of trees that go directly -- not only to our house but to the neighbor's house," Resnick said.

During the early morning hours of June 7th, police were dispatched to another fire -- this one in the area of North Long View Drive and West Woodbury Lane.

There, police found two small, distinct fires -- about 25 feet apart.

The complaint says one was a large paper yard waste bag willed with pine tree and grass clippings, and the other was a white plastic trash bag containing assorted garbage and mail.

While police and fire officials were attending to these fires on June 7th, they discovered a third fire in the 2100 block of West Woodbury Lane.

The complaint says this fire was significantly larger -- with flames approximately six feet high.

The fire was discovered in the woods -- just outside the northwest corner of the fenced backyard of 2120 West Woodbury Lane -- the brothers' home.

The complaint says this fire was extinguished, and officials observed that a portion of the wooden fence at that location had suffered fire damage.

The complaint against Anthony Balsamo says police interviewed him on June 27th.

When asked about the fires -- the complaint says Anthony Balsamo first discussed the fire involving the Jeep.

As for the fire involving the mattresses, the complaint says Anthony Balsamo told police he had been driving through the neighborhood and saw the stack of old mattresses.

The complaint says Balsamo told police he started the mattresses on fire -- using tiki torch oil.

The complaint says Balsamo told police "Whoosh. It lit up fast. I went home and five minutes later, I heard the sirens."

The complaint says Balsamo talked about his involvement in the two trash fires on June 7th, as well as the one in his backyard.

The complaint says Balsamo told police he was at home and had smoked crack cocaine. He told police he was bored -- and told his brother "you want to see some excitement? I'm going to start a fire."

The complaint says Balsamo went to the area of North Long View Drive and West Woodbury Lane -- and set the fires.

The complaint says after those fires were set -- Balsamo told police he went home and started a fire in his own backyard -- filling a plastic garbage bag with paperback books and setting it on fire.

The complaint says Balsamo told police "I didn't think it would start that fast and ignite the fence. We were watching it and we were ready to go outside and put it out -- but then suddenly it went out. The Fire Department must have come and done it because it was out."


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