Local fire departments were called at about 6:50 p.m. Tuesday for the report of a garage fire in the 200 block of Downs Chapel Road, Master Cpl. Gary E. Fournier said. As fire officials were searching the garage, they found equipment and component mixtures used in the manufacturing stages of methamphetamine, Fournier said, as well as key ingredients needed to make the drug.
Detectives with the Delaware State Police Kent County Drug Task Force were then called, as well as the state fire marshal’s office, Delaware Natural Resources (DNR) and the Little Creek Fire Company. Three residents on the property were also evacuated and the road was closed for about two hours while officials determined if there was an “immediate hazard,” Fournier said.
Police were able to determine that 36-year-old James F. Sparks, of Clayton, was in the process of making meth Tuesday when combustible materials used to make the substance blew up in a bottle and started the blaze in the garage, Fournier said.
He was not injured in the explosion and was transported to Troop 3 in Camden. Police charged him with operating a clandestine laboratory.
Lacking $20,000 secured bail, he was taken to Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna.
The state fire marshal’s office also charged him with second degree arson and three counts of reckless endangering. A secured bail of $8,000 was set on those charges.