Early Morning Fire Being Investigated As Arson

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An early morning fire Wednesday night on Wildwood Lane in Athens is being investigated as arson after a gas can was found in the home along with a methamphetamine lab, according to officials.

Firefighters from The Plains Volunteer Fire Department and deputies from the Athens County Sheriff’s Office responded to a structure fire at 8150 Wildwood Lane in Athens for a fire that had been called in by a motorist, according to a news release by the sheriff’s office.

One room was fully engulfed when fire crews arrived at the home near Route 682, according to The Plains Fire Chief Randy Williams. Arson investigators from the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating the fire.

“They do believe the fire was arson and they have a couple suspects,” Williams said.

Deputies arrived to find visible flames about four to six-feet high coming from the back of the residence.

Firemen on the scene told deputies a gas can had been found in the kitchen and that the fire was “definitely suspicious in nature,” according to the sheriff’s office release.

Later on Wednesday, State Fire Marshal Alan Flickinger requested help from the Narcotics Enforcement Team at the same residence after discovery of a “meth lab in ruins.”

Detective Jim Heater was called in to investigate and confirmed the presence of a meth lab, according to the sheriff’s office.

Fire Marshal’s Office spokesperson Michael Duchesne said the investigation was still in its early stages.

“The cause is as of yet undetermined,” Duchesne said. “There’s not much to release at this point.” <

According to Sheriff Patrick Kelly, deputies said the day before the fire the couple staying at the residence, Jessica Sagar and Andrew Hutchins had both been arrested. Sagar was charged with shoplifting and Hutchins remains in the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail on a parole violation, according to jail records.

No charges have been filed in relation to the fire or the alleged meth lab, Kelly said. The case will be presented to an Athens County Grand Jury.