An Orrville man and woman have been charged in connection with a meth lab that was believed to cause a house fire in Rittman on Tuesday.
Larry D. McCumbers, 40, who is incarcerated at the Wayne County Jail, has been charged with illegal manufacturing of drugs, a second-degree felony, Prosecutor Dan Lutz said.
McCumbers was out on bond after being arrested in connection with a meth lab bust in Orrville in January.
Toni Roberts, 35, also incarcerated at the jail, was charged with illegal assembly of drugs, a third-degree felony.
Lutz said when the cases go to the grand jury, there could be additional charges brought forward.
The arrests were made following a fire in the basement of a house at 41 Liberty St., Rittman. Firefighters were called out at 2:38 a.m. Tuesday and knocked down the fire rather quickly, fire Chief Don Sweigert said. As firefighters searched the home, chemicals associated with the manufacturing of methamphetamines was discovered, and the police were called back to the scene. An agent from the Medway Drug Enforcement Agency also was called out.
McCumbers, Roberts and two other occupants escaped without fire-related injuries, and McCumbers fled the scene. He was later found, unresponsive, along railroad tracks in Rittman.
The Liberty Street home was the site of a meth lab bust just a week earlier, and two were arrested in connection with the lab.
Choyice Marie Bowers, 26, and Frank Merle Goch, 39, both of 41 Liberty St., Rittman, were arrested and charged after Medway Drug Enforcement Agency agents executed a warrant at the two-story home. Bowers is facing a charge of illegal possession of chemicals; Goch is facing one count of illegal manufacturing of drugs.
A third person was arrested for possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia on April 4, and Lutz said charges are pending until after the drugs are tested.
After the first incident, Rittman City Manager Larry Boggs said the case will test the city’s new clandestine drug lab ordinance, in which property owners become financially responsible for cleaning up meth labs on their properties.
Boggs said Rittman provided about $1,500-$1,600 in city services, mainly through the police and fire departments, for the first bust, and the clean-up costs were about $1,000. Extra police officers were called in.
After the second incident, a utility worker was called in to shut the water off to the residence, and an EMS crew was on standby, Boggs said.
“It’s not fair to make taxpayers pay for that,” Boggs said.
The ordinance was enacted during a time when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency no longer paid to clean up meth labs. The agency has since begun to cover those costs again.
Even though DEA has started to fund the cleaning operations again, Medway Director Dave Smith said it is uncertain how long the funding will be available.
Boggs said he hopes he can recover money for the clean-up of the house and reimburse the DEA so it can expand its work.
“Why should the DEA have to pay for the clean-up of somebody else’s problem,” Boggs asked.
During a Rittman City Council meeting Monday, Boggs said the residents tried to warn the property owner several times about potential drug activity in the house.
“We are going to recoup our costs,” Boggs told council.
Smith said the Tuesday meth lab bust was the 10th lab-related incident for the year. There were only 17 for all of 2011.
Medway senior agent Don Hall predicted 2012 will break records for meth labs.
Reporter Bobby Warren can be reached at 330-287-1639 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s @BobbyWarrenTDR on Twitter.