Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 23, 2013

Arson suspected in abandoned mobile home fire

WAR — Arson is suspected in a Friday morning fire that occurred on a property where McDowell County sheriff’s deputies recently uncovered a meth lab.

Sheriff Martin West said firefighters were alerted at 2:30 a.m. due to a fire in an abandoned mobile home in the William Pokey Hill area of War.

The property where the fire occurred was also the scene of a meth lab deputies uncovered at 5:30 p.m. Thursday evening. Deputies arrested Timothy Harrison Stone, 51, of War, and Donald Martin Simpkins, 31, of Warriormines, Thursday afternoon on charges of operating a clandestine lab and felony conspiracy after officers walked in to find the pair making meth in an abandoned trailer, West said.

The mobile home that burned was adjacent to the structure where the two subjects were arrested in the process of making meth, West said. It is believed at this time that the arson at the structure may have been set to destroy evidence, West said

“The trailers on the property were both scheduled to be torn down by the city of War before the labs were discovered,” West said. “This is the fourth meth lab found in McDowell County this year. We believe the fire was arson at this time. We believe they meant to burn the lab down. We are investigating this along with the lab.”

Four officers who entered the lab were treated for inhaling toxic fumes on the scene by the McDowell County Ambulance Authority and one of the four deputies was later transported to Welch Community Hospital to be treated for exposure to chemicals on the scene. West said the deputy has since been released from the hospital.

Harrison was previously arrested in January on charges relating to the manufacture of meth in the War area and was out on bond at the time of his arrest Thursday evening, West said.

Stone is being held on a $100,000 cash only bond while Simpkins is being held on a $50,000 cash only bond. Both are currently incarcerated at the Southwestern Regional Jail.

West said law enforcement officials uncovered the lab after an anonymous tip was called in to their offices.

“We appreciate all the tips we get,” West said. “Some of the signs that a residence is used as a meth lab include having a lot of trash in the yard, especially things where they have peeled off the labels to hide what chemicals are in them and grocery bags. The people who operate these labs are secretive and often have the blinds closed and put up ‘no trespassing’ or ‘beware of dog’ signs to keep people out. A lot of times, the property will smell like rotten eggs or ammonia.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com

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