Man faces drug charges after Aspen apartment fire |

Man faces drug charges after Aspen apartment fire

A man whose Aspen apartment was severely damaged by a fire last week was arrested Friday after investigators allegedly found six pounds of marijuana and $8,000 in cash in the residence.

Barney Forest Oldfield, 51, is charged with two felonies, distribution of marijuana and possession of more than eight ounces of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor. His apartment is part of the Aspen View Condominiums on Midland Avenue, where an early morning fire caused residents to flee last Monday.

Fire Marshal Ed Van Walraven said the fire began on Oldfield’s third-floor balcony. He said it was probably started by a person, but whether it was started accidentally or intentionally is still unknown.

Oldfield was taken to the Pitkin County Jail, where he immediately posted an $8,000 bond and was released.

A firefighter allegedly found a large amount of cash in Oldfield’s unit, which, along with another apartment, suffered the worst damage. The firefighter gave the cash – some $8,000 – to police for safekeeping.

While investigating the fire, police allegedly found the marijuana and other drug paraphernalia. After obtaining a search warrant, police went back to Oldfield’s apartment and seized a number of items. Besides the marijuana, scales that are suspected to be used in the distribution of drugs, paraphernalia that can be used for the distribution and use of cocaine, several silver bricks weighing 100 ounces and rare coins were also seized.

“It is common for drug dealers to have large amounts of cash and other liquid assets such as the silver bullion and rare coins seized from Oldfield’s unit,” Aspen police Detective Jim Crowley wrote in the arrest warrant. Each silver brick is worth approximately $470, he said.

Crowley said the marijuana was packaged in various amounts, from a quarter ounce to a gallon-sized bag to a “brick” of the substance. Based on a sale price of $100 to $150 for a quarter ounce of marijuana, Oldfield had anywhere from $38,400 to $57,600 of the drug in his apartment, Crowley said.

The fire began on Oldfield’s balcony and traveled up the complex’s eaves to an attic space, Van Walraven said. Since the attic area did not have smoke or fire detectors, the fire grew until it produced enough smoke to activate detectors.

But residents didn’t hear an alarm, he said, because the wiring that connects the audible alarm to the rest of the building is in the attic and was damaged by the blaze.

A large amount of the complex’s roof was lost as the fire spread across the attic space. Van Walraven said firefighters did “a heck of a job” venting the smoke by cutting a hole in the metal roof, saving the rest of the building from fire damage.

Substances that could accelerate the spread of a fire were found on the balcony by a dog trained in smelling hydrocarbons, Van Walraven said. The Colorado Bureau of Investigations requested the fire department call them when there is a fire to be investigated, so their dog could get some practice.

Van Walraven said the substances will be tested as the investigation continues.

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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