Columbia County authorities arrested three people today in connection with a suspected drug lab fire that gutted a house in Martinez.
Columbia County firefighters who were called to 3510 Rainbow Street at about 10:30 a.m., found the one-story brick home engulfed in flames. Residents Michael Russell, 52, and Kathleen Stanford, 40, were taken into custody, along with 24-year-old Blake Barfield of Clearwater, S.C.
“Russell was transported to the hospital where he is being treated for minor burns he received when the Meth lab exploded,” Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said in an e-mail.
All three will be charged with the manufacture of methamphetamine, Morris said.
Russell was in the house and was pushed out a side window by Stanford who was also in the house at the time.
“He was caught in the corner over there and I was right over there at the door, texting on the phone,” said Stanford, who said that Russell came tumbling out on his head.
Miguel Garcia, Sr. who lives across the street saw the flames and called 911.
“I came outside and I could see the flames billowing out of the picture window, out of the side of the house, 10 or 15 foot above the roofline,” said Garcia. “Mike (Russell) was hollering call 9-1-1. I could feel the heat in the middle of my yard.”
Columbia County Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Jim Champion said firefighters put out the fire in two to three minutes.
County fire officials are still investigating to determine the exact cause of the blaze.