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Police say fire may have been meth lab explosion

By Seth Burkett
sburkett@decaturdaily.com 340-2355

LACEY'S SPRING — A fire that destroyed a residence in eastern Morgan County may have sprung from a methamphetamine lab, the Sheriff's Department said Wednesday.

Chief Deputy Mike Corley said there were reports of a lone white male leaving the residence in a white vehicle when the blaze began shortly after 10 a.m. at 1063 Telephone Tower Road.

"Investigators and narcotics officers went out there, gathering evidence the best they could. They had to wait for a cooldown. The indication is it may have been a meth lab that erupted into a fire," Corley said.

Firefighters said they were not certain what type of dwel-ling the residence was. Brindlee Mountain volunteer firefighter James Wessel said it appeared to be a house in some aspects and a mobile home in others.

"The fire basically burned like an oven," Wessel said. "The metal walls and roof stayed intact to some degree. It just cooked everything inside."

Wessel said he couldn't say whether chemicals played a role. "It was burning pretty hot when we got there, and it's difficult for us to say what may or may not have been involved in the fire," he said.

The residence has a history of being suspected as a drug house. Narcotics agents arrested three people during a raid there May 29. At that time, Corley said, it was the third meth-related raid at the house belonging to 40-year-old Timothy Gene Brown.

Investigators said Brown was not home at the time of the raid but they later arrested him on charges of manufacturing meth in connection with the lab found during the raid. Morgan County Jail released Brown on Aug. 3 on $10,300 bond. It was not immediately known if Brown still lived at the residence.

Firefighters remained on the scene for more than five hours.

"Hitting hot spots and mopping up was extremely difficult because of the structure. It took a little longer than a regular structure fire would have," Wessel said. He said the fire melted siding on a mobile home about 30 feet away, but firefighters contained the blaze before it could ignite the nearby structure.

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