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OCOEE, Fla. — A man called 911 early Monday morning saying he was having a reaction to methamphetamine, and when officers arrived they found equipment and chemicals to make the drug, Ocoee police said.

The Ocoee Police Department said it received a call at 4:40am from 30-year-old Brandon Hightower, who said he was having a reaction to meth at the apartment complex. Investigators said they found Hightower inside the apartment and transported him to Health Central Hospital.

Twenty apartments at the Oak Forest Apartments on Old Winter Garden Road (see map) were evacuated as a precaution.

“Not happy at all. Not happy at all. 5:30 in the morning and an officer’s knocking at your door, that’s not a good situation,” evacuated resident Chris Seal said. “They told us that we can’t get back into our apartment, so it’s a little frustrating.

While crews worked quickly to clear the apartment with the meth lab inside, officers would not let residents inside their apartments.

“Nobody should have to go through something like this, but I guess it’s the times,” resident Brian Fischer said.

Residents said they were disturbed after being bounced out of bed before sunrise. However, investigators said they could take no chances after getting Hightower’s 911 call. He told police that said he’d been overcome by chemical fumes.

Methamphetamine is a dangerous combination of chemicals people buy in stores, things like battery acid, drain cleaner, kerosene, and antifreeze are dangerous to breathe; and when the meth is cooked with an open flame, they can set fire.

“They can ignite, they can explode, so until we can get it all identified we’re gonna keep everybody out,” Captain Mark Pilkington said. “These apartments sometimes share the same ventilation system, so that’s another precaution we had to take.”

Investigators said the apartment is leased to Hightower’s mother, who was out of town at the time of the incident.

According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, “the lab team determined that the meth lab was not active but in the early stages of formation. This led to the arrest of Brandon Hightower on charges of attempted manufacture of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.”

Residents had access to the complex’s clubhouse during the evacuation. They were allowed back in shortly after noon Monday.

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