MOUNT CARMEL - A borough resident accused of operating a "one-pot" methamphetamine laboratory that exploded in his garage Oct. 20 will have a pre-trial conference in February.

John K. Carl, 30, of 46 E. Avenue, faces charges of operation of a methamphetamine lab, arson, risking a catastrophe and recklessly endangering another person, and drug charges. He is due for a pre-trial conference Feb. 7 at the Northumberland County Courthouse and remains in Northumberland County Prison on $100,000 bail.

Mount Carmel Borough Police Chief Todd Owens says residents are a valuable tool in helping to fight the meth problem.

"Meth-makers are so covert, it's very tough for police to infiltrate the organization," Owens said Friday. "We ask the public if you smell any kind of chemical odor in your neighborhood, give police a call to investigate."

It was approximately 8:45 p.m. Oct. 20 when borough Patrolman Justin Stelma detected a noxious odor coming from an East Cherry Street garage. While looking inside, he saw materials commonly used to make methamphetamine. Stelma also saw Carl, and when he knocked on the window, Carl panicked, police said. He scooped up some of the meth-making materials and ran to an exit.

"As (Carl) and Stelma met at the end of the garage the bottle exploded. ... Too much agitation will cause a violent chemical reaction," Owens said at the scene that night.

Carl suffered respiratory burns and was treated at a local hospital before being jailed the next morning. Stelma was not seriously injured, but had to be decontaminated. Meanwhile, firefighters evacuated nearby houses while the scene was cleared.