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Compton house fire leads to one arrest; possible PCP lab is found

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House fire leads to possible PCP-making lab in Compton; badly burned man arrested

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials say a man was badly burned in Compton early Tuesday when a possible in-home drug-manufacturing lab burst into flames.

Sheriff's Sgt. Ulysses Cruz said deputies were on patrol about 3:15 a.m. when they saw a house fire in the 1100 block of 137th Street and went to investigate. As deputies turned onto the street, a vehicle in front of the burning home sped off and the deputies gave chase, Cruz said.

Moments later, the car stopped and a passenger inside jumped out and ran, Cruz said. Deputies caught up to the man, who Cruz said had serious burns across his body. Paramedics rushed him to a hospital where he will be taken into custody by authorities once he’s discharged, officials said.

At the home in Compton, firefighters told deputies they found evidence inside the home that led them to believe its occupants were making PCP.

The man who ran from deputies was expected to be arrested on suspicion of arson, but drug charges could be pending, Cruz said.

If the home was a PCP lab, it would be one of several that authorities have identified in South L.A. in recent years.

In February, federal prosecutors announced they’d broken up a PCP-manufacturing ring that involved dozens of conspirators across the country that was tied to the Grape Street Crips in Los Angeles, Watts and Compton.

Prosecutors charged 40 people in two indictments and seized 100 gallons of PCP and its precursor chemicals, which equated to nearly 7.7 million doses. Among the locations identified in the indictment was a home in the 800 block of 127th Place -- less than two miles away from Tuesday’s blaze.

Authorities say the PCP-making process is dangerous.

“Ether, a chemical used when manufacturing large quantities of … PCP emits flammable vapors and, in an explosion, one gallon of ether could cause a detonation equivalent to several sticks of dynamite,” prosecutors said in the February indictment.

Other precursor chemicals can explode from simply being exposed to moisture, officials said.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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