Special to SEGAZINE
A call to a mobile home fire became a crime scene Monday, where lawmen suspect a methamphetamine lab exploded, seriously injuring a Blackshear man inside.
Stephen P. Gill, 44, was transported by medical helicopter to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctor’s Hospital in Augusta for treatment of severe burns. Sheriff Ramsey Bennett said Gill sustained “life threatening” burns in the fire.
Pierce County firefighters and EMS responded to the scene around noon. Most of the structure was saved, but the home suffered heavy smoke damage.
Investigators from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office and Blackshear Police Department were summoned moments later following a “suspicious” development after the flames were quickly brought under control. Law enforcement and fire officials investigating the incident soon concluded the fire appeared to be the result of an apparent drug operation.
“We believe a meth [methamphetamine] lab exploded, causing the fire,” said Bennett.
Bennett said charges are pending against Gill.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Meth Lab Recovery Team was called in to conduct the investigation and to dispose of hazardous materials involved in the operation. The team, along with local law enforcement and emergency personnel, were on scene until midnight Monday.