LAWTON-- A meth lab explosion landed a man in the hospital and nine more people in jail on Sunday. It also led to evacuations in a Lawton neighborhood. It happened at 10th and H Avenue. The fire department got a call around 6:30 Sunday morning saying a man was suffering from shortness of breath. When firefighters got there they discovered a tank containing anhydrous ammonia had exploded in a shed behind a home and the toxic gas had spewed into the air.
Once firefighters got the people out of the lab, they brought in a meter to check the amount of anhydrous in the air. It's a fertilizer commonly used to cook meth and in this case there was lot of it. Investigators say so much, it was off their meter. "It's very much an asphyxiant, it's a respiratory inhalant. It's a very very toxic chemical. It's a carcinogen, a cancer causing agent," said Lawton Fire Department Deputy Chief Lonnie London.
It also has the potential to explode. That's what happened Sunday morning. "The warmer it gets the more pressure it builds and these guys don't exactly use approved containers. Sometimes they use air tanks, propane bottles, fire extinguishers, whatever they can get their hands on," said London.
Firefighters and narcotics officers had to gear up in hazmat suits to remove the chemicals. That took several hours. Then police made yet another discovery.
"During the process of their search warrant they found another cannister the could possibly explode," said Lawton Police Chief Ronnie Smith. "We have a bomb containment trailer and a bomb containment basket we're going to use to keep the container cool so that it will minimize the explosion if it does explode."
The careful apporach paid off. Police say the second cannister was safely removed and taken to the department's firing range. On a bright note, authorities also discovered a litter of puppies and plucked them from the home. Firefighter say an older dog that was inside the shed where the explosion happened was not so lucky and appeared to have injuries caused by the toxic fumes.
Police orginally thought the man who was taken to the hospital had life threatening injuries, but they now say it looks like he will survive.