By Frank Lewis
One of the most dangerous things you can come upon is a methamphetamine lab. Even more dangerous is a meth lab fire. But that is exactly what one person encountered Tuesday. At approximately 10:37 a.m. the Portsmouth Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol was called by an Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) supervisor and advised that an ODOT mowing crew was cutting the grass along Ohio 139 near milepost 4, when the rider of the mower struck an unseen object that was in the grass.
The employee said the object immediately displayed a plume of white dust and a small fireball. The mower was moved to a safe location and stopped. The operator of the mower then went back to extinguish the fire and saw there were bags, a bottle and tubing.
The ODOT employee suspected the object may have been a meth lab and contacted his supervisor. Meanwhile, the Rubyville Fire Department and Trooper D.S. Edgington were dispatched to the scene. Edgington was advised to cautiously approach the object up wind and if it was burning to not get near it. The object was approached up wind and Edgington determined it had been a portable meth lab that consisted of a small bottle and tubing. The fire was out upon Edgington’s arrival.
The Scioto County Sheriff’s Office was contacted to request meth lab clean-up personnel. A detective arrived at the scene and the remains of the meth lab were neutralized.
ODOT supervision had the rider of the mower and the driver of the truck that was following the mower transported to Southern Ohio Medical Center as a precautionary measure. Neither of the workers said they had any known injuries; they did not get close enough to smell the chemicals or to be exposed to the smoke.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.