“I looked up and sky was all red up there, from the fire,” said neighbor Almon Hemore.
Not much is left left of the garage at 5 Johnson Street in Houlton. Neighbors saw a fire and heard what they say sounded like an explosion there on Thursday evening..which led to 36-year-old Thomas Lowery being arrested and charged with trafficking methamphetamine.
“I think its terrible..makes you wonder who’s your neighbors you know, what they’re doing,” said Mary Irish of Hodgdon.
The Houlton Fire Department responded to the fire. Chief Milton Cone says the explosion happened while they were en route and the roof collapsed. As they were suppressing the fire, they found items they were concerned about – so they called the Houlton Police and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, who determined that meth was being manufactured there. Lowery was taken to the Aroostook County jail and booked. Bail was set at 5 thousand dollars cash. He’s charged with trafficking in schedule W drugs – which is a class B felony.
“I credit the personnel from the fire department for recognizing what they were dealing with and and that was critical to prevent injury to them and others who might be nearby,” said Chief Butch Asselin.
There are a number of houses on Johnson street and Lowery’s neighbors tell me they never would have suspected anything drug related to be going on here.
“I know him, I know his little girl, I know his mother and he’s always around to do good things, treats us all with respect, I don’t know the other side of his life,” said Hemore.
“Not to know anything..it seems to be there’d be a sign but he goes out and mows his lawn that’s it,” said neighbor Vicki Jones.
Meth labs continue to be a disturbing trend in the county that Asselin says is only getting worse.
“I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, all we can do is apprehend individuals responsible and shutdown operations and continue to make people safe,” said Chief Asselin.
According to the MDEA, the origin and cause of the fire are still under investigation.