Drug suspect's business burns

Fire chief: $30,000 in damage; blaze caused by faulty stove pipe

A business owned by a man suspected of dealing drugs sustained an estimated $30,000 in damage after it caught fire Friday morning.

Emergency crews responded to Eaton's Auto Service, 1121 E. Victory Way, at 7:24 a.m. Friday as smoke billowed from the building and flames burned in the attic.

Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Chris Nichols said the department's investigation revealed the cause of the fire was a faulty pipe on a coal/wood stove in the building.

Neldon Lee Aldridge, 42, owns Eaton's. Aldridge was one of 15 suspects arrested in December on methamphetamine possession and distribution charges. Aldridge is at the Moffat County Jail awaiting a hearing.

Mechanic Eric Fowler said he was working at the shop and built a fire to warm up the building.

"I would assume the stove got too hot and lighted the rafters," Fowler said.

There was no evidence of a drug lab at the shop, Nichols said.

"Everything we found was related to the (auto repair) business," he said.

Nichols said he estimates $30,000 in damage because the structure needs a new roof in the front section of the building.

Firefighters tore down the ceiling to gain access to the attic flames and ripped down some exterior material to check for concealed fires.

Two vehicles parked inside the building sustained minimal damage, and the fire did not damage nearby structures.

Craig Fire/Rescue dispatched all firefighters to the scene, which Nichols said is common for structure fires.

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

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