Archived Story

Possible meth fire burns Buchanan resident

Published 4:23pm Monday, January 2, 2012

A Buchanan resident sustained burn injuries Saturday in what officers believe was an explosion that occurred while he was cooking methamphetamine.
On duty police officers Sgt. Harvey Burnett, Officer Jerad Phillips, Officer Mike Troup and Reserve Officers Florey and Fellows were alerted to a house fire at 1005 Victory Street in Buchanan at 10:57 p.m. Saturday.
The house is a two-story home owned by Linda Sharrer, 55, and Michael Linley, 59. Sharrer was home in the main level of the home at the time the fire broke out upstairs. Linley was in a detached garage working on a vehicle when the fire broke out. Also in the residence was Robert Britton, 28, a recent resident of the home. He was upstairs in the bedroom at the time the fire started.
Another female subject may also have been upstairs at the time of fire. Witnesses indicated this unknown female may have received some burn injuries during the event. Officers are looking for this person for further questioning.
When Phillips and Florey arrived they observed smoke and fire coming from the second story of the home. They found a small pile of clothing burning behind the home, which they were extinguishing with a fire extinguisher. Troup and Fellows entered the home to look for a dog that was said to be inside the home. No dog was found during a quick search of the interior or after the fire.
Once the fire department arrived the officers secured the scene around the house and began speaking with the homeowners and other witnesses in attempts to determine the cause of the fire. Initial information did not provide any indication why the fire started.
During an inspection of the upstairs by Bertrand Fire Chief Knisley, a number of items were identified that would be consistent with the manufacturing of meth. These items supported the belief that a meth lab may have been operational at the location where the fire started.
Buchanan officers called for the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department haz-mat and narcotics units to assistance them at the scene. The narcotics unit will be assisting in investigation of the event.
Later at the scene officers were alerted by the Berrien County Dispatch that another police agency had investigated a reported burn victim at a residence in Niles Township.  The victim, Robert Britton, had severe burns to his torso and arms and needed an ambulance. Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service was called and transported Britton to Memorial Hospital in South Bend. He was later transferred to the St. Joseph Hospital Burn Center in Ft. Wayne, Ind.
Investigation officers believe that Britton may have been in the process of “cooking” meth at the time an explosion occurred at the 1005 Victory St. residence and that is when he was burned.
The event remains under investigation.

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