PPD: Paintsville man charged with arson

Above, Paintsville Fire and Rescue responded to a house fire on Pine Street Thursday afternoon which led to the arrest, left, of Michael Eldridge on arson and wanton endangerment charges, according to Paintsville Police Department Officer Zach Mitchell, who also responded to the scene.

A Paintsville man was arrested on charges including arson and wanton endangerment Thursday after a vacant house on Pine Street caught fire, according to Paintsville Police Department officer Zach Mitchell.

Paintsville Fire and Rescue responded to the scene of the fire first, followed by Mitchell and fellow PPD officer Jeremy Shepherd. The officers said that fire department workers saw Michael Eldridge, 46, of Paintsville, carrying a soda container full of gasoline shortly after the fire erupted.

“Through investigation, we could figure out that this fire started off as burning trash, but it appears to us, based on testimony from the fire department that they saw (Eldridge) walking around, carrying a container of gasoline within close proximity to the apartments next door as well as (an adjacent residence) and the fire in here got way out of control, very quickly, prompting the response from the fire department.

Eldridge was arrested at the scene after being questioned by the officers and lodged in the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center at approximately 5 p.m. Thursday on charges of third-degree arson and five counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.

While no date has been set for Eldridge’s arraignment in this case, he has an arraignment set for another case related to his Jan. 17 arrest, in which he allegedly passed an unloading Johnson County school bus while under the influence of marijuana. Eldridge will be arraigned in that case Mar. 25.

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