Police dismantle meth labs; woman arrested
JERSEY SHORE — Armed with a search warrant, Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police officers entered Lauren N. Fisher’s second-floor apartment at 109 Wylie St. one afternoon last week and immediately found evidence of what they said was a small operation of a methamphetamine lab.
In the master bedroom, officers found several “suspected one-pot methamphetamine” cooking pots along with other articles that “were consistent” with what one would find in a makeshift, illegally-operated methamphetamine lab.
Everything came to a standstill as a call went out to the state police’s Clandestine Lab Response Team, a group of troopers specially trained to safely collect evidence and dismantle such labs.
On the back porch was a grocery bag “that contained bottles with a tan substance, tubing protruding, commonly referred as gas generators used in the manufacturing of methamphetamines,” Patrolman Tyler Bierly wrote in an affidavit that was made public this week.
In court documents, Bierly alleged the 24-year-old Fisher “engaged in mixing dangerous chemicals during an attempt to manufacture methamphetamines, placing persons in the area surrounding her home in danger of death or serious injury.”
As the clandestine lab team members, all wearing protective hazardous materials suits, conducted their 90-minute search of the apartment, volunteer firefighters stood by at the scene with a hose line at the ready.
“These chemicals are highly flammable,” Independent Hose Co. Fire Chief Robert Cowfer said Friday night. “We are primarily there for the safety of the troopers who are handling the chemicals.”
Firefighters in the borough and elsewhere have received training on what to look for and what to do in the event of discovering such a lab in a home while performing their duties, Cowfer said.
If firefighters enter a burning home and “just happen to knock over a pot while methamphetamine is being made, that could very easily create a fireball. It’s a very dangerous situation,” he added.
South Williamsport volunteer firefighters discovered one such lab in November 2016 when they responded to a home on Childs Drive to extinguish a basement fire. Two people were arrested.
In their search of Fisher’s apartment on Feb. 13, state troopers recovered 14 items used — or associated in some way — with the manufacturing of methamphetamines, Bierly said.
The discovery of the lab came after police received a tip that Fisher was operating such a lab in her apartment.
Fisher was arraigned Friday morning before District Judge Jerry C. Lepley on felony charges of illegally operating a methamphetamine lab, illegal possession of liquefied ammonia, manufacturing a controlled substance, causing or risking a catastrophe as well as recklessly endangering, a misdemeanor. She was committed to the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail.
The clandestine team was again in Jersey Shore on Wednesday afternoon when another lab was discovered in a home in the 500 block of Burke Street. The investigation is ongoing and no charges have yet been filed as a result of this incident.