PITTSTON – City firefighters extinguishing a blaze in a residential neighborhood discovered a suspected methamphetamine lab and that resulted in the capture of suspected meth cooker Kevin Hall in a nearby cemetery.
The fire at 100 Tompkins St. is the second associated with Hall at suspected drug houses.
Hall was found hiding behind a tombstone near the Tompkins Street residence Wednesday night. He suffered burns to his face and hands from flames that erupted after cooking meth in the basement, authorities said.
Hall was jailed in default of $300,000 bail in Luzerne County Correctional Facility. Court records say he was free on bail awaiting sentencing in another drug case.
In January, Hall's residence at 19 Hill St., Mocanaqua, caught fire when Brian Engle Jr., 26, cooked meth, according to court records.
Engle is facing meth-related charges in county court and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on Oct. 12.
Hall told state drug agents Wednesday night he was demonstrating how to cook meth for others.
Hall was arraigned by District Judge Andrew Barilla in Pittston on two counts each of possession of chemicals with intent to manufacture a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, and one count each of possession of a controlled substance, causing a catastrophe and manufacture of a controlled substance.
According to the criminal complaint:
Firefighters responded to the house for a blaze at about 8:12 p.m. Wednesday and found lithium batteries, funnels, cold medicine, ammonium nitrate and tubing in the basement.
Occupants, identified in the complaint as Jeff Salarno, Ryan Bergstresser, Sandy Osbourne and Salina Besecker, told authorities that they were aware Hall was cooking meth in the basement.
Besecker and Osbourne told authorities they went to different pharmacies in the area to buy cold medicine for Hall, knowing he was going to cook meth, according to the complaint.
Bergstresser said he was sleeping with Osbourne when they were awakened by someone yelling, "Fire."
Salarno was taken into custody on an outstanding theft warrant.
In a related incident on Tuesday, Mike Mitchell told Jenkins Township police that Hall showed him how to cook meth at a house on Main Street, Jenkins Township, according to arrest records.
Mitchell, 33, of Benton, Columbia County, was arraigned Wednesday on meth-related charges.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled on Oct. 3.
Edward Lewis, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7196.