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Meth making causes fires

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By Damon Lawrence

Meth making caused a fire at an apartment building earlier this month, according to the Roane County Sheriff’s Office.

Justin Michael Owens, 23, was arrested after an investigation.

According to the sheriff’s office report, Sgt. Mitch Grigsby responded to 4466 Kingston Highway on a report about suspicious materials found at the scene of a structure fire. Grigsby said he entered the bedroom of Apt. 6 and discovered numerous meth-making items, including Coleman fuel, drain cleaner, aluminum foil and plastic bottles.

“I then spoke with the tenant of Apt. 6, Brandon Tarr, his roommate, Justin Owens, and a third male, Scott Hunter,” the report said.

“Based on those interviews it is believed that Justin Owens was at the residence alone when the fire started and that Brandon Tarr and Scott Hunter arrived on scene as firefighters were fighting the blaze.”

Owens is charged with five counts of reckless endangerment, manufacturing meth, tampering with evidence and vandalism.

“There is probable cause to believe that Justin Owens was inside of Apt. 6 and was engaged in the clandestine manufacture of methamphetamine, and at least one of the vessels used in the manufacturing process suffered a catastrophic failure that resulted in a fire that spread throughout the apartment,” the report said.

Owens allegedly told police he removed a garbage bag of meth making materials from the apartment after the fire started because he was afraid the materials would make the fire worse.

“Mr. Owens admitted to throwing the bag into the wood line across Kingston Highway from the apartment,” the report said. “Deputies went across the road, retrieved the garbage bag and discovered numerous other items associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine.”

A Tennessee Methamphetamine and Pharmaceutical Task Force truck responded to the scene to help cleanup the meth lab. The report said law enforcement determined that a quarantine of the entire apartment complex wasn’t necessary.