Two meth labs busted in Birch Bay, Custer

Published on Thu, Oct 17, 2002 by Meg Olson

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Two meth labs busted in Birch Bay, Custer

By Meg Olson

Last Tuesday the windows blew out of a Birch Bay home, but there was no fire when fire crews arrived. What they found was the remnants of what appeared to be a methamphetamine lab. Three days later a similar scene, minus the explosion, confronted sheriff’s deputies searching a house on Custer School Road.

“We are still investigating but there were chemicals and equipment consistent with the manufacture of methamphetamine,” said Joseph Remenar, resident agent in charge for the federal drug enforcement agency that is collaborating with local law enforcement on the cases as part of the Northwest Drug Task Force.

Jim Rutherford with North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Services said they received the call for a structure fire on Loft Lane in Birch Bay on October 8 just after 1 a.m. “The reporting person said it was an explosion. When we got there the fire had blown itself out and all the windows were blown out of the front of the house,” he said. “We started looking for evidence of illegal activity, found it and backed out.” Remenar said coffee filters, glassware and a white liquid were collected at the scene. It is believed that the milky liquid is pseudoephedrine, a precursor of methamphetamine.

Rutherford said the male resident of the home was badly burned on his face arms and legs and was transported to the burn clinic at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. “His story to deputies was that he was cooking oil on the stove when it caught fire, but I’ve never been to a stove fire that blew all the windows out of a house,” Rutherford said. A 30-year-old woman and two children were unharmed in the explosion. The woman, Brenda Baldwin, was charged on October 18 with endangerment of a child and possession of a controlled substance. Lieutenant Steve Defries of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s office said charges were expected against the male resident of the home.

Sheriff’s deputies responding to an unrelated call smelled an unusual odor at in the 8200 block of Custer School Road. On October 11, “they got consent to search the home and found chemicals and paraphernalia,” Remenar said. Elaine Williams, 30, and Lee Williams, 31, were arrested for endangering a child and manufacturing controlled substances and will be charged on October 25.

Remenar said finding several methamphetamine labs a year was common, but several a week was not. “We’ve been seeing an increase in labs throughout the state but particularly up here,” he said..

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