Arson suspect: Fire was accidental

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— A man charged with two counts of fourth-degree arson said in court Wednesday that he didn't mean to start the fire.

Jeff Kyle Rigdon, a 34-year-old Breckenridge man, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of starting a fire Monday night that destroyed a manufactured home and two vehicles on Routt County Road 14E.

Routt County Sheriff's Investigator Ken Klinger said Rigdon caused the fire when he dumped camping fuel over hot coals in a stove in the home. The man who was renting the single-wide trailer and a woman were in the house when the fire started. All three were able to escape. Rigdon was visiting the renter.

On Wednesday, Rigdon appeared in Routt County Court for an advisement hearing.

Routt County Judge James Garrecht told Rigdon "just about anybody who causes a house fire can get charged with this."

Rigdon's bond for the arson charge was set at $5,000. Before the fire, Rigdon had two warrants for his arrest. The warrants were for traffic violations in Grand County and will increase Rigdon's bond.

After Rigdon was ordered not to make contact with the two other people who were in the mobile home, he told the judge the two people were both very good friends.

"It was an accident," he said. "I don't see any reason why they can't visit me. There is nothing malicious between us."

Rigdon fled the scene of the fire Monday night, but the sheriff's office caught him when he sought medical treatment at the office of Steamboat Medical Group. Rigdon had second-degree burns on his forearm and third-degree burns on his ankle.

Rigdon will appear in court again Wednesday.


-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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