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Suspect arrested in meth lab fire

<i>WFSB</i><br/>Emergency vehicles surround an apartment building in Willimantic
Emergency vehicles surround an apartment building in Willimantic

By Kaitlyn Naples, Sharon Johnson, Ayah Galal

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    WILLIMANTIC, Connecticut (WFSB) — An apartment building in Willimantic was evacuated on Monday after a fire broke out in what was identified as a methamphetamine lab.

A suspect was arrested; however, police have yet to identify him.

The fire happened at 560 Main St. in Willimantic.

In addition to local police and fire crews, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Emergency Response Unit, the State Narcotics, and the Drug Enforcement Administration responded to the scene.

Officials said the fire involved “a one-pot methamphetamine lab.”

Residents said around 10 a.m. they were told to evacuate the building.

Hannah Plynas said once they were waiting around for several hours, they knew it was something serious.

“I thought oh it’s the fire alarms going off again because sometimes they go off and you don’t know what’s causing it,” she said. “I was very shocked. I was very surprised.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration and state narcotics officials also responded to the scene.

“Neighbors on that floor reported there was black water coming out of that door and they were pounding on that door to wake up the young man,” Jay Osborne said. “The fact that explosion could have brought down the entire building is what’s kept most of us in shock all day.”

Environmental crews secured chemicals.

The Salvation Army’s New London Emergency Disaster Services vehicle was called to the scene to support in the post-fire clean-up and operations. It also provided meals and hydration to first responders.

Most residents were able to go back inside the building after several hours. Two units were deemed uninhabitable.

Tenants told Channel 3 that they were surprised about the discovery made inside.

“This could happen in any neighborhood, sadly,” Osbourne said. “It’s just a first time that it’s happening here.”

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