A 41-year-old man who suffered extensive burns Thursday in an alleged methamphetamine lab explosion is recovering at a St. Louis area hospital, authorities said.
Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said shortly after 7:30 p.m., deputies responded to the 3000 block of Lakeshore Drive in Whispering Valley Lakes subdivision to assist New Haven/Berger firefighters at the scene of a structure fire.
The explosion and fire occurred in a metal shed at the residence, the sheriff reported.
The victim was taken by ambulance to Mercy Hospital Washington, then transported by air ambulance to Mercy Hospital St. Louis in Creve Coeur, the sheriff said. The man was not identified.
During transport, the man told EMTs that he had been attempting to cook meth and the lab exploded.
Narcotics investigators went to the scene and found evidence of a meth lab, according to the report. The man was the only person in the building at the time.
Whispering Valley Lakes is located near the intersection of Highway C and Highway YY, south of New Haven.
Lab Incidents Down
Sheriff Toelke noted the dramatic reduction in meth labs in the county over the past few years.
Lab investigations reached their peak in 2002 when 152 incidents were reported.
The Missouri Highway Patrol, which tracks meth lab investigations around the state, reported that through September 2015, Franklin County had five labs. That number is expected to be higher once all reports have been submitted, a narcotics investigator said.
The sheriff said lab incidents began to drop significantly after 2012 when 102 labs were reported. There were 68 labs investigated in 2013 compared to 21 in 2014, the sheriff said.