Jason Jones, 32, of North Platte was sentenced Monday to three-and-a-half years of probation and ordered to pay $8,000 in partial restitution for a fire he started in the garage of a house on West Third. Jones has been in jail since his arrest in late August. He admitted to having drug and alcohol problems.
The former convenience store clerk pled no contest in December to second-degree arson and possession of methamphetamine after making a deal with prosecutors. Two original charges -- burglary and theft by taking -- were dropped.
Before Lincoln County District Judge Richard Birch handed down sentence, he said Jones has been a cooperative prisoner and he noted that Jones did not set out to burn the garage and contents.
The fire was in the 1700 block of West Third. Investigators said it started the when electrical wiring was pulled from an air compressor, causing an arc. The compressor's power cord was wired directly into conduit instead of through a plug-in and socket. Jones was thought to have been trying to steal the compressor.
Firefighters got the fire knocked down quickly, but a car and the contents were destroyed. The garage structure was heavily damaged.
North Platte residents helped police make the arrest. First, a neighbor reported his car was stolen and last saw it speeding down the alley away from the fire. The car was later found in the parking lot of Pacific Place Apartments, containing several tools that belonged to the owner of the burned garage, police said.
When Jones tried to move the car, residents at the apartments confronted him and held him for the police.
Jones’ restitution will cover one-fourth of the total cost of damages, prosecutors said.