St. Petersburg residents return home after drug lab explosion

St. Petersburg residents return home after drug lab explosion

Police are still investigating the Wednesday explosion, which temporarily displaced residents of 11 other apartment units.
Originally published by TAMPA BAY TIMES

ST. PETERSBURG — Neighbors of an apartment rocked by a drug lab explosion Wednesday were allowed to return home after being displaced overnight, according to the apartment complex management.

A woman who answered the main office phone at the Alta Mar at Broadwater complex said residents were allowed back in “much earlier” Thursday morning, though she could not give an exact time.

The explosion happened just after 3 p.m. Wednesday in one unit at the complex, 3906 34th Terrace S, but forced the evacuation of 11 others as a precaution.

As of 9:45 p.m. Wednesday, residents were being kept away from their apartments after the Tampa Bomb Squad — which was sent to investigate the scene — found “volatile chemicals” after the explosion. Those inside the apartment where the blast occurred left the area afterward, the St. Petersburg Police Department said.

Police are still investigating the explosion, spokeswoman Sandra Bentil said Thursday. The agency has not said whether those involved will face charges. It has also not publicly identified the chemicals found at the scene or the type of drugs being manufactured there.

The Tampa Bay area has seen similar explosions in years past, more often in rural areas and typically involving methamphetamine.

In 2013, a Brandon barn being used as a meth lab exploded, severely burning one man. Two years before that, two people were hurt when a lab blew up inside a Dade City home.

In 2006, when a St. Petersburg motel was evacuated after a meth lab was found in one room, the then-St. Petersburg Times reported that it was just the second lab ever discovered within city limits.