Nursing home fire was started by meth lab in a resident’s room

A fire at a northeast Ohio nursing home Sunday that killed one and injured six others was caused by a meth lab that had been set up in one of the resident’s rooms…The deadly blast occurred in a second floor room of the Park Haven Nursing Home in Ashtabula at around 8:30 p.m., firefighters said, sending staffers scrambling to save the home’s three dozen elderly or disabled residents.

“I was taking a break, and I looked through the window and I saw an explosion of fire,” nurse Deanna Bigley told the local Star Beacon newspaper. “There was this guy and he was engulfed in flames,” she said. “One of our residents put him out, but then the fire started up and he had to be put out again.”

Witnesses say one nurse, 28-year-old Kristi Hance — who is reportedly pregnant — returned to the blazing building several times to help residents escape. “She just kept going back in to get people,” Bigley said. “The smoke was thick and black, but she went back in to help.”

Seven people, including three residents, two non-residents, and two others, were injured in the blaze. One man died from his injuries Monday…Police didn’t identify him, and it was unclear if he lived or worked at the facility.

Ashtabula fire Chief Ron Pristera told local station WKYC television that crews found evidence of a “shake-and-bake” style meth lab in the room where the fire started. “Shake-and-bake” is a fast but highly combustible way of making meth that involves mixing the ingredients together in a single bottle or container and then shaking it, according to news reports.

Meth heads who use the “shake-and-bake” method often end up with a few grams of meth — or a trip to the local burn ward…

In a Facebook post Monday, Hance praised her coworkers’ bravery. “I in no way acted alone!” she wrote. “Every single staff member on duty last night was completely fierce and totally heroic…We are their caretakers and that is what we are there to do.”

Kudos to the staff members who risked their lives for the people in their care. A normal instinct in a cataclysm like an explosion and fire is to get your own butt to safety.

Nursing home staff aren’t exactly the highest paid job category in the United States. But, these folks took their mandate of care seriously – with sufficient conviction to risk their own lives for the residents of the nursing home. I wish you well.

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