Investigator: Unknown to residents, meth lab was hidden in outbuilding
Fire and law enforcement officials say an outbuilding fire at a home on Rock Creek Road uncovered a meth lab that residents at the address did not know existed.
Firefighters with West Carter County Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire at 214 Rockhouse Road Lot 2 after a neighbor reported the storage shed was on fire.
“The entire building lifted up, and then there were clouds of black smoke everywhere,” said neighbor Ashley Ward, who called 911 about the fire. “A man came jumping out of the shed with his pants on fire.”
Ward said a woman came out of the home at Lot 3 and asked her not to call the fire department, but that she already had.
West Carter County Fire Chief Conley Jones said his department had been told the fire was out, only to learn that it had not been extinguished.
“They didn’t want us out here,” Jones said. “They called and said it was out, and then the neighbors called and said it was not.”
Jones said when the department arrived there were items from the shed lying in the yard still on fire, which he extinguished using a nearby garden hose.
The residents at the home in Lot 2 said they were not aware that anything had been in the shed. The woman at the home said the shed had been locked, and that she worked third shift and usually slept during the day.
Members of the volunteer fire department contacted the Carter County Sheriff’s Department. After investigating the scene, officers reported finding an ammunition box that included drain clog opener and coffee filters. Investigator Harmon Duncan explained the drain cleaner was used in the second stage production of methamphetamine.
“It has been confirmed that there was a meth lab,” Duncan said. “The shed has been quarantined.”
Duncan said the residents at the home at Lot 2 were not suspects in the case, and that a burglary report had been filed because the lock on the shed had been cut to make entry to the building.
Duncan said arrest warrants are pending for the man from the shed and the woman who came to his aid from the home at Lot 3.