Update: Meth Lab Chemicals Sparked Fire
11 mobile homes in Indian Creek Village, Lower Macungie Township were evacuated Thursday morning after emergency crews discovered a meth lab in the community.
Responding to the report of a fire at 5457 Harford Court early this morning, state police say they connected with a man who told them he was trying to dispose of chemicals used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Jeffrey Lee Miller Jr., 34, told state police he was trying to get rid of chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine when they caught on fire.
Nobody was hurt but 15 people from 11 mobile homes were evacuated from Lower Macungie Township's Indian Creek Village to the Lower Macungie Community Center this morning as smoke from a methamphetamine lab caused a fire scare. After reassessment, most residents were allowed to return about 9:15 a.m., others about 11:30 a.m., according to Lower Macungie Fire Chief David Nosal.
Emergency crews responded to a fire call at the mobile home around 4:55 a.m. and found smoke coming from a meth lab, according to the state police report.
"When we arrived, there was no fire but a haze or vapor plume," Nosal said.
"Some things [chemicals] got together that shouldn't have," Nosal said of the chemical combination.
Seeing the plume, officers called for members of the Pennsylvania State Police Clandestine Laboratory Response Team who dismantled the lab and collected evidence, the report said.
Miller has been charged with multiple violations of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act, causing or risking a catastrophe, and recklessly endangering another person.
For more than a year, police have seen a dangerous trend as more mom-and-pop-type drug labs spring up in the Lehigh Valley.
One meth maker was busted living near a high school - in a home she shared with her two young girls.
And meth cooking gone wrong filled a room with chemical-smelling smoke at a family-friendly hotel in a busy shopping area. The alleged perpetrator was charged with risking a catastrophe, among other crimes.
Two detectives from drug task forces for Lehigh and Northampton counties told Patch in a July 2011 interview that more dealers are making their own meth.
Wannabe dealers turn to the Internet for instructions on making meth, but that doesn’t make them experts, said Det. Andre Stevens of the Northampton County Drug Task Force.
“More unskilled persons are trying to make meth than before, which is a big danger,” Stevens said. “Meth is made with very flammable and toxic substances so it is very dangerous for people to try to make that.”
Lehigh Valley meth cases include these:
- Todd Laudenbach was arrested in April for allegedly operating a methamphetamine lab in the Hampton Inn on Easton-Nazareth Highway (Route 248) in Lower Nazareth Township. Laudenbach of Bushkill Township allegedly admitted that he’d been cooking meth and it had gone wrong. He and Denene Noel of Saylorsburg were charged with possession and manufacturing of methamphetamine, as well as risking a catastrophe.
- Carl V. Deutsch and Kimberly Landis Fizer were arrested April 8 on charges of allegedly manufacturing meth in their home at Kozy Korner Road in Upper Saucon Township, according to the criminal complaint. Police found chemicals, including red phosphorous, iodine and pseudoephedrine, which are ingredients for making meth.
- A Southern Lehigh teacher, Garrett Dudeck, was charged by federal authorites in March with allegedly selling meth from his home in Bethlehem. He is under house arrest while awaiting trial.
- Two Upper Nazareth men, James Schaffer, 49, and Timothy Getz, 27, were arrested for allegedly making and selling meth in Easton, Nazareth and Phillipsburg in March.
- In April, Rebecca L. Andrews pleaded guilty to selling meth out of her home on S. Gilmore Street, near Salisbury High School, and was sentenced to six to 23 months in Lehigh County Prison. Her boyfriend, David Russell Faust, had already been sentenced for running a meth lab in their home.
Typical signs of a meth lab at a home or business are "increased traffic."
Meth is highly addictive and the effects on addicts are devastating. It ages people quickly, damaging their teeth and gums. Users lose weight and some feel like they have bugs under their skin, he said.
Faces of Meth is a project featuring before-and-after photos showing the grisly physical decay of young women and men hooked on meth.
“You’re going to have paranoia, decreased appetite, anxiety, weight loss, strong body odors,” Stevens said.
One of the ingredients in meth is pseudoephedrine, which can be found in some Sudafed cold and allergy products.
In an effort to curb meth production, Congress passed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2006, which requires those Sudafed products to be sold behind the pharmacy counter. Customers have to present photo identification to buy them.