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Meth lab found at Goss Lake

A strong odor of anhydrous ammonia alerted Island County Sheriff’s Deputies to a methamphetamine production lab in operation this week on South Whidbey.

The illegal lab, located on the shores of Goss Lake, was shut down early Tuesday morning by Island County deputies and detectives. One man was taken into custody.

Deputies discovered the operation in a metal shed when they were called to the scene by a neighbor who reported a burglary in process.

Arrested for the alleged possession of a controlled substance was Douglas Blackburn, 40, of Oak Harbor. He is being held in Island County jail on $25,000 bond and was expected to be charged Thursday with possession of a control substance and burglary.

Deputy Dan Todd, one of the deputies who found the meth lab, said his nose led him right to it.

“We knew right away that he was still cooking by the strong odor,” he said.

According to Todd, Blackburn was “cooking” a batch of the highly addictive drug just outside the door to the shed.

Inside the shed, deputies discovered all the ingredients necessary to produce meth, including lye, lithium batteries, Toluene, ephedrine and a tank of anhydrous ammonia.

Todd said it “was an explosive situation” because of all the chemicals involved in the process.

“Blackburn had a candle burning and a Coleman lantern on inside the shed.” he said.

Deputies received an anonymous, 911 dispatch call 3:10 a.m. Tuesday calling them to a lakefront lot next door on Kirkwood Lane. According to Detective Mike Birchfield, who also responded to the scene, the female caller reported seeing someone taking items out of a shed next door.

When deputies arrived on the scene they got more than a burglar.

“It is common for us to find (meth labs) in places like this, a shed set apart from other houses, in cars, or just in woods all hidden from view,” Birchfield said.

Birchfield said Blackburn been arrested previously for possessing illegal drugs and for burglary.

Deputies believe Blackburn may have been camping out on the property in a picnic shelter next to the shed. The property is owned by people living off island and is used only for recreation.

Once the lab was discovered, deputies along with the Washington State Patrol’s meth lab response team — which arrived at about 10 a.m.— began hours of meticulous work gathering the chemicals and collecting evidence. Estimated street value, according to Birchfield was $2,000.

Because of the chemicals involved, state team donned “moon suits” to do the cleanup

Island County Fire District 3 volunteers stood by the scene with hoses in case of fire or contamination.

This is the third methamphetamine lab discovered on South Whidbey in the last two months. The other two were not operating.

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