PRICE — Authorities in Carbon County are investigating the death of a man whose body was found Tuesday in the basement of a burning house.
Firefighters were called to the house at 423 S. 200 West just before 11 a.m. after someone reported seeking smoke, said Price Police Capt. Bill Barnes. Firefighters were told that someone was possibly still inside the burning house, which neighbors described as a "drug house."
"At the time the situation was unknown, and it was such an active thing that we didn't know exactly what we had," Barnes said. "So for safety sake, officers approached first using due caution and were able to quickly take care of the situation and neutralize it."
Witnesses said police approached the house with guns drawn and cleared it before firefighters started working to put the fire out. The body of a man was discovered in the basement of the house by firefighters who were checking for hot spots, police said.
The victim's name is not being released, pending notification of his family. Barnes declined to comment on a possible cause of death.
"Everything is on the table right now," he said, noting that a determination will be made by the state Medical Examiner's Office after an autopsy is performed.
Officers took several people into custody at the fire scene and later executed search warrants at the house where the fire started and another house across the street, 432 S. 200 West.
"It is known that (two people) left the residence where the fire was at (and) made a brief stop at that residence (across the street)," Barnes said. "We believe there are forensic items at that location."
Barnes confirmed that the house that caught fire is known as a place where drug activity frequently takes place and officers have had numerous dealings with the people who live there.
"One of the people (taken into custody) had an extensive criminal history, including 41 arrests, 30 convictions, a lot of violence involved — it's astounding," the captain said.
Barnes said that man is in custody and being questioned by detectives along with several other people, but no one has been arrested at this time in connection with the death or the fire.
"If there are arrests made at this point, the basis for those arrests are outstanding warrants, Adult Probation & Parole 72-hour holds, those sorts of things," Barnes said.
Price police are being aided in their investigation by the Carbon County Sheriff's Office, the Carbon County Attorney's Office, the Price Fire Department, the Utah Fire Marshal's Office, Adult Probation & Parole, the Utah Attorney General's Office and forensics teams from the Utah State Crime Lab.
Contributing: Martha Ostergar
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