Man set leg on fire in meth lab

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comApril 21, 2013 

— A Rock Hill motel room is destroyed and a man in jail after police say he was cooking methamphetamine in the room, resulting in an explosion that set beds, a television and his own leg on fire early Sunday.

York County drug agents have charged Ronnie Kenneth Brady, 35, with his third manufacturing methamphetamine offense, said Marvin Brown, commander of the county's multijurisdictional drug enforcement unit.

At about 12:55 a.m., the Rock Hill police and fire departments responded to the Rock Hill Motel on Riverview Road after someone called about a fire in a motel room and parking lot, Brown said. When responders arrived, the room was ablaze.

Firefighters extinguished the fire in the second-floor room as well as a burning can of Coleman Fuel, according to a York County drug unit incident report.

The drug unit and the county's emergency management department arrived to help evacuate several rooms in the motel, Brown said.

Meanwhile, police found Brady with burns on his left leg at the corner of Riverview and Celanese roads after he fled the scene, Brown said.

According to the report, it appeared that he had been cooking meth when the one-pot lab – a soda bottle – went up in flames.

The gallon can of Coleman Fuel, a petroleum-based fuel, apparently caught fire, Brown said. Brady then threw the burning can into the parking lot, according to reports.

His leg caught on fire, Brown said, when he tried to stomp out the flames. He was treated by EMS.

The room itself suffered extensive damage as mattresses, a television set and telephone caught on fire, Brown said.

“The room’s a total loss,” he said. “The ceiling is completely black.”

No other injuries were reported, and no estimate was available on how much damage was caused at the motel. Officials examined other nearby rooms but did not report finding any other drug paraphernalia.

Motel management, staff and several guests declined to comment.

One-pot meth labs, which take shape in Gatorade bottles, 2-liter soda bottles or any other “small vessel,” are condensed meth labs that are more mobile than their predecessors, said Lt. Max Dorsey with the State Law Enforcement Division last week.

Users fill the bottles with chemicals that react on their own and produce the meth in its liquid form, he said. The manufacturers then use another vessel with salt and acid to solidify the drug into a compound that they drain through a filter to produce the finished product.

“They’re manufacturing it as a ticking time bomb,” he said. “In the pots, you have a bomb potentially.”

Last year, 33-year-old Jason Alan Johnson, also known as “Convict,” was sentenced to 28 years in prison after police say he cooked 60 grams of meth in a room at the Rock Hill Motel in 2011.

Johnson’s co-defendant, Cory Seth Catoe, was also arrested and pleaded guilty to manufacturing meth. He was sentenced to two years in prison followed by two years’ probation.

On Tuesday, Catoe, 29, was behind bars again after deputies serving a family court bench warrant on him found that he and his girlfriend, Brooklyn Barrett Brandon, 26, had a 32-ounce Gatorade bottle they used for cooking 100 grams of meth on the windowsill of an Ebenezer Avenue Extension duplex.

Investigators searched the apartment for several hours, confiscating several chemicals. Both Catoe and Brandon remained jailed at the York County Detention Center without bond.

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