Meth lab, in the form of a van, busted in Blaine

Published on Thu, Aug 28, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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Meth lab, in the form of a van, busted in Blaine

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

A man was booked into Whatcom County Jail earlier this week on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine in his 1963 Dodge van.

Donald A. Patton, 41, was arrested Monday after authorities from the Whatcom County Sheriffs Office were investigating suspicions of a lab operation behind the residence at 4347 H Street, where Patton lives in his van.

Surveillance had been initiated after Patton refused to allow deputies to search his van. Patton then ran to a field adjacent to the van and threw materials on a pile of vegetation and tried to ignite them on fire, according to county sheriff Bill Elfo. Deputies then approached and ordered Patton not to do that, but he ignored them and a fire started.

A deputy sheriff close to the fire, inhaled fumes and collapsed on the scene, according to Elfo. He was transported to St. Joseph�s Hospital where he was treated and released with follow-up instructions for further medical care. It appears that an accelerant, possibly consisting of substances used in the manufacture of meth, caused the fire to ignite quickly, Elfo said.

North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Services (NWFRS) responded to the fire, which began to spread into a surrounding field. Firefighters used protective gear to protect themselves from fumes.

On Tuesday, Drug Task Force agents performed an environmental cleanup of the site.

�We have to remove all of the substances in accordance with environmental regulations,� Elfo said, noting that involves officials in full body suits who have been properly trained in this kind of removal.

Patton was booked into the Whatcom County Jail on charges of manufacturing meth. Other charges including obstruction of a law enforcement officer, destruction of evidence, reckless endangerment and reckless burning are pending.

The investigation into this matter is continuing, Elfo said. Blaine police officers also responded to the incident.

According to Elfo, the county has been plagued with the increased presence of meth laboratories and dumpsites this year. In 2002, the sheriff�s office interrupted a total of 14 laboratories/dumpsites. For the first six months of 2003, sheriff�s officials reported the disruption of 31 labs/dumps.

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