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Logan's Chatman Funeral Home destroyed by fire

By Charles Young

LOGAN -- A Logan funeral home that was about to mark its 80th anniversary was destroyed by fire over the weekend, but the owner is vowing to rebuild.

Investigators from the State Fire Marshal's office determined the fire was arson Monday evening, according to Mark Lambert, assistant fire marshal.

Todd Fields, the owner and operator of Chatman Funeral Home, said he had no idea why anyone would want to destroy his business, but he suspected drugs were involved. 

"I just can't figure out anyone who would want to do it," he said. "As far as what I do, I help people. No one's got anything against me; I haven't done anything to be targeted by anybody. I guess maybe crack heads saw the opportunity.

"I just think so much drugs has gotten a hold of people around here any more. Drugs have taken over everything."

Fields said his business is small, conducting only 30 funeral services a year and "a few cremations."

 "It's not like this is a big jealousy thing where I'm driving around in Cadillacs, rolling in the dough or something like that," he said.

Members of the Logan Fire Department called the fire in the two-story, aluminum-sided, cinderblock building suspicious.

The fire did an estimated $1 million in damages, said firefighter Nick Ferrell. Two firefighters sustained minor injuries putting it out.

A representative from the state Fire Marshal's Office conducted an inspection Monday afternoon. Investigators still are looking into the blaze even though the determination was made Monday evening that the fire was set.

Ferrell said the fire began about 3:40 a.m. Sunday. 

The structure containing the funeral home and two apartments was still standing after the blaze, but Ferrell said it would have to be demolished.   

There were no bodies in the building when the fire occurred, and no one was in the apartments.

 Fields told investigators he was in his apartment in nearby Whitman with his fiance and her three children when the fire occurred.  

He called the incident "disheartening" because he considers his profession a service to the community.

The funeral home was previously owned by the Chatman family and was to mark its 80th anniversary later this month.

He began working there after graduating from high school and became close to the owners, who later bequeathed him the business.

"I vowed to keep it open and run it just the same as I always have," he said.

Despite the cost, Fields said he plans to rebuild and reopen.  

"Whatever I get from insurance, I'll put back in," he said. "This has been my life. People have said it's not worth it, but to me, it's not a money thing. I will be back."

Anyone with information can call the arson hot line at 1-800-233-FIRE (3473). A reward of $5,000 is offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Contact writer Charles Young at charles.young@dailymail.com or 304-348-1796.

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