The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 1, 2013

House fire results in arrests

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT —  One man faces a drug-related charge stemming from a methamphetamine-making operation uncovered by a house fire earlier this weeks.

Rick Erickson, 26, 99 Marshall St., has been charged with illegal manufacture of drugs, a second-degree felony, a Conneaut Municipal Court spokeswoman said. A preliminary hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, she said. Erickson remains in court in lieu of a $100,000 cash/surety bond, and will be represented by a public defender.

Firefighters responding to a house fire alarm at 99 Marshall St., found several one-pot meth laboratories in a second-floor bedroom, the same room where the blaze began, authorities said.

A second man was arrested near the scene of the fire, police said. Jory Rhodes, 25, of Conneaut, was picked up on a warrant issued in February when he reportedly violated an earlier court order to stay away from products containing pseudoephedrine. Police allege Rhodes made several purchases of Sudafed, a brand-name for the product, in January.

Rhodes will also appear before Judge Thomas Harris on Monday morning, a court spokeswoman said.

Police responding to the fire call found Erickson and Rhodes standing a short distance from the house. Erickson entered the house to find animals while Rhodes remained outside, the fire report states. Officers asked a dispatcher to check for any outstanding warrants involving the men. Rhodes overheard radio traffic alerting police to his warrant, began walking away and then suddenly broke into a run down a hill, officers said.

Rhodes was apprehended a short distance away and handcuffed after a struggle, police police said.

Erickson, meanwhile, was arrested after he was heard threatening another man at Beaver Street and Hayward Avenue, officers said. Erickson suffered a burn to his leg while Rhodes was burned on a wrist.

The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the blaze, firefighters have said. Arson charges could be filed because of the danger the meth-making operation posed to police, firefighters and other first-responders.