Pot grow lights spark Snowmass fire | AspenTimes.com

Pot grow lights spark Snowmass fire

Madeleine Osberger
Snowmass Village correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/The Aspen TimesSnowmass Village firefighters prepare to enter 211 Villas North after reports of smoke around noon Wednesday near the Snow­mass Club. Snowmass Village Police Chief Art Smythe said the fire was likely caused by grow lights. No one was injured, but tenant William Russell was arrested.

SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” Grow lights for marijuana plants were apparently the cause of a fire Wednesday that damaged a unit at the Villas North complex in Snowmass Village, according to Snowmass Police Chief Art Smythe.

The lights and more than a dozen small to medium marijuana plants were found in unit 211, he said.

The unit, which is in the town’s employee housing rental inventory, sustained smoke damage. No other residences were impacted.

Long-time Snowmass resident William Russell, 41, was arrested on charges of fourth-degree arson, for recklessly starting a fire that endangers someone. Russell was also charged with cultivation of marijuana, which is a Class 4 offense, according to Smythe.

“What he was doing there was reckless, considering that it’s multifamily housing,” the police chief said.

A neighbor who smelled fire contacted police at about noon. Russell arrived after the police and fire departments showed up and was arrested.

“I think the town takes it seriously if someone who resides in our employee housing is engaged in illegal activities,” Smythe said.

He also cautioned residents against using grow lights, “even if your are going to grow tomatoes.”

Russell’s bond was expected to be issued late Wednesday afternoon.

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