Warren County authorities say they found evidence of methamphetamine in “a known drug house” that caught fire Oct. 8.
An affidavit for a warrant to search a residence at 80 Smelser Lane, Bentonville, filed in Warren County Circuit Court on Oct. 11, provides details about the investigation. The document identifies the occupants rescued from the fire as suspects but does not provide names.
Sheriff’s Office investigator Phillip A. Henry II referred questions about the suspected drugs recovered from the residence and any arrests related to the investigation to the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force. Henry said by phone Friday the matter remains under investigation and he could not comment on whether or not investigators suspect methamphetamine manufacturing took place in the residence.
“I can assure you in reference to the fire investigation that the fire marshal’s gonna be looking at all aspects to see if there’s anything there,” Henry said.
Task Force Supervisory Special Agent Joshua T. Price, with the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations Drug Enforcement Section, states in an email Friday that the Sheriff's Office and the fire marshal are investigating the matter. Price referred questions to the county agencies.
Investigator M.E. Glavis states in the affidavit that Warren County sheriff’s deputies and fire and rescue crews responded to a fire at 80 Smelser Lane, “a known drug house.” Responders arrived to see a detached garage engulfed in flames and one male inside the structure. Responders removed the suspect from the garage. Deputies went into the house and took out two male suspects and a female for their safety, the affidavit states.
“When I arrived, I spoke to the female suspect who gave consent to search her purse,” Glavis states. “I located drug paraphernalia, and crystal like material in a zip baggie. That suspect advised it was meth.”
Firefighters extinguished the main fire and the residence appeared damaged.
“Fire personnel conducted a safety search of the residence for any further threats,” the affidavit states. “Investigator M.L. Henry was then made aware of possible drugs and drug paraphernalia inside the residence.”
Henry entered the residence and found a plastic baggie containing clear, crystal-like material next to a spoon with burnt residue on a table in the living room where the three suspects were removed from the house, according to the affidavit.
Investigators found and recovered more than a dozen items including spoons, straws, containers, a $1 bill, a grinder and plastic baggies, all with residue; a crystal-like substance in a pill bottle; glass smoking devices and cell phones.
Crews from Warren County volunteer fire stations and Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the Smelser Lane residence at 7:09 p.m., Oct. 8, with several people reported inside, according to information released Oct. 9 by the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services. The fire engulfed the garage and crews saw flames spreading to the adjoining house and shed. The man in the garage escaped through a window and firefighters rescued the people from the house.
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Correction: An earlier version of this story should have attributed a quote to Lt. Phillip A. Henry II, of the Warren County Sheriff's Office.