Clayton man charged after meth-triggered fire

CLAYTON — The Delaware State Police Kent County Drug Task Force and State Fire Marshal’s Office have arrested a Clayton man after he set fire to his garage while allegedly preparing methamphetamine.

At about 6:50 p.m. Tuesday, fire departments were dispatched to a garage fire located in the 2000 block of Downs Chapel Road, according to Delaware State Police Master Cpl. Gary E. Fournier.

James F. Sparks

James F. Sparks

As fire officials were conducting a search of the garage, they located equipment and component mixtures of the manufacturing stages of meth along with key ingredients in making the drug, according to police. Detectives assigned to the Delaware State Police Kent County Drug Unit, with the assistance of the Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office, Delaware Natural Resources and the Little Creek Fire Company, responded to the home to assist with the investigation.

Three residents were evacuated and the roadway was closed for about two hours.

Through the investigation it was determined that James F. Sparks, 36, of Clayton, allegedly was in the process of manufacturing the meth when combustible materials used to make the substance exploded in a bottle. The explosion ignited the fire in the detached garage.

Mr. Sparks was uninjured and was transported to Troop 3 in Camden where he was charged with operating a clandestine laboratory. He was arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 7 and committed to James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna on $20,000 secured bond.

Mr. Sparks subsequently was charged by the State Fire Marshal’s Office with second-degree arson and three counts of second-degree reckless endangering. A bond of $8,000 was set on those charges.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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