Preliminary hearing for man in Mount Carmel meth explosion continued
MOUNT CARMEL - A borough man charged with operating a "one-pot" methamphetamine laboratory that exploded in a garage Oct. 20 is scheduled to face a preliminary hearing on multiple felony charges Wednesday, Nov. 13, before Magisterial District Judge Hugh Jones.
John K. Carl, 30, of 46 E. Avenue, who was initially scheduled to go before Jones on Wednesday afternoon, had his hearing continued Monday at the request of his attorney Vincent V. Rovito Jr. of Shamokin. Assistant District Attorney William Cole did not oppose the continuance before Jones granted it.
He remains incarcerated at Northumberland County Prison in Sunbury in lieu of $100,000 cash bail.
Patrolmen Matthew Dillman and Justin Stelma charged Carl with felonies of arson, operating a methamphetamine laboratory, manufacturing methamphetamine and causing or risking a catastrophe, and misdemeanors of recklessly endangering another person and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The charges relate to an explosion that occurred about 8:45 p.m. in an East Cherry Street garage in Carl's backyard, which is between Hickory and Oak streets.
Carl, who suffered respiratory burns, was taken into custody after the explosion and subsequently transported by ambulance personnel to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, where he underwent emergency room treatment before being discharged the next morning.
According to a police affidavit, Stelma detected a noxious odor coming from the garage. While looking through a garage window, Stelma identified materials used to make methamphetamine, including lye, ice packs, salt and lithium battery strips. Stelma knocked on the window, and Carl turned toward him before scooping up the materials and running to an exit.
Mount Carmel Chief of Police Todd Owens said Carl and Stelma met at the end of the garage and the bottle exploded; Owens said too much agitation causes a violent chemical reaction.
Stelma was not seriously injured and was decontaminated as a precaution, Owens said.
The further risk of explosion was minimal, police said.
The fire from the explosion was extinguished by firefighters, who assisted police in evacuating houses immediately neighboring the scene.
Members of the Northumberland County Hazardous Materials Response Team assisted firefighters and police at the scene. A Pennsylvania State Police Clandestine Lab Response Team also provided assistance.
After obtaining a search warrant from Jones, police searched the garage about 12:35 a.m. Oct. 21 and found a partially melted white container and melted plastic bottle outside. Inside the garage, officers discovered a table containing household lye drain opener, three cold compresses, a plastic bag containing clear zipper bags and coffee filters, a plastic bag containing empty battery packs, empty bags and lighter fluid. Police also found casings of lithium batteries and several pliers on the table.
Near the table, officers found a clear plastic bag containing plastic zipper bags, coffee filters, a gas tube, a cold compress box containing seven lithium batteries, a soda can, a soda bottle with a gas tube attached, table salt, used lithium strips and a bag of coffee filters.
Police also found three methamphetamine smoking pipes in the garage.