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Two people face felony methamphetamine charges and a man is being treated for severe burns after an early-morning blast Monday at a South Knoxville home.

John Schubert, 29, was stabilized at the University of Tennessee Medical Center and then transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center’s burn unit in Nashville after the 6:12 a.m. blast at his 716 Avenue A residence, according to Darrell DeBusk, Knoxville Police Department spokesman.

Schubert was listed in critical condition Monday at the medical center.

“His condition is questionable at the moment,” Knoxville Fire Department spokesman Capt. D.J. Corcoran said. “We’re not sure he’s going to make it.”

Corcoran said Schubert suffered second-degree burns over 40 percent of his body – mostly the upper torso, hands and face – when a chemical mixture he was making ignited and burned off his clothing.

Another resident of the address, Melissa Boots, 40, and John Nichols, 22, of Loudon, were arrested at the scene and charged with one felony count each of Initiation of Process to Manufacture Methamphetamine, DeBusk said.

Pending his recovery, Schubert faces multiple charges as the investigation continues, DeBusk said.

Corcoran said the victim was stripping lithium from batteries when the mishap occurred. Corcoran said the lithium heats with air contact and can ignite when it contacts moisture. The man was using Coleman fuel to keep the lithium cool during the process, Corcoran said.

“It’s amazing what people will put into their bodies,” he said.

He said a small fire resulted in the single-story home from the explosion, with the victim’s clothing the main fire issue.

“We did put out a small fire, not a full-blown structure fire,” Corcoran said. “It was mostly him.”

Joseph Huskey, 24, who is doing roofing work in the area, said he saw a man running from the smoke-filled apartment with chemical burns.

“I was on the roof and it looked like fog was coming out of the house,” Huskey said. “A guy came out with no shirt on and was walking around while turning in circles with his arms raised in the air.”

Huskey said the man was not on fire, but he could see apparent burns on his upper body.

When firefighters arrived, they used a hose to wash the man down before hustling him away in an ambulance, Huskey said.

“There were a couple of other people in the house, but they didn’t seem to be hurt,” Huskey said.

Corcoran said the other people in the home, a man and a woman, were segregated by putting them in a van at the home until firefighters could turn their attention to them.

Firefighters decontaminated the couple with soap and water and sent them to UT Medical Center for evaluation.

“They’ll be handed over to the Knoxville Police Department after they’re evaluated,” Corcoran said.

Huskey said the smell of Coleman fuel was evident throughout the neighorhood.

Corcoran said a city codes enforcement officer was examining the home to determine the extent of contamination. An environmental cleanup company also was called to use specialized equipment to assess the severity of contamination and how much work must be done to make the home habitable.

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/may/24/man-injured-in-suspected-meth-related-blast/

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