Man burns himself in suspected meth lab, calls police

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A man called 911 to report he’d been burned inside his house while heating paint thinner on his stove, Marietta police say.

“Why highly flammable chemicals on the stove?” police asked.

From a hospital bed, George McDowell, 29, said he’d been using the paint thinner on a wall and possibly splashed it, starting a fire, according to a police report. McDowell said his wife and young children, ages 6 and 3 months, were out of town when he was burned. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he was being treated for second- and third-degree burns to his torso and arms, according to police.

But inside the home, investigators got a better idea of what McDowell was allegedly doing.

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“During this search, I noticed items consistent with a meth lab,” an officer wrote in the report.

In the same home where McDowell lived with his family, investigators say they found all the tools needed to make meth, according to Marietta police. An expert with the Drug Enforcement Agency confirmed the suspicion late Sunday.

“He pointed out markings on the kitchen floor consistent with the heating of lithium, burn marks that were skipping away from the point of origin of the fire,” the police report states.

Officers obtained a search warrant for the home, where they found additional items used for the drug lab and receipts for the items, according to police.

“Items were photographed and left at the scene due to the hazardous nature of the items and lack of proper storage and transport containers,” the report states.

McDowell was charged with manufacturing drugs, a felony, police said. Friday afternoon, Cobb County deputies gave McDowell a ride from the hospital to the Cobb County jail, where he was being held without bond Friday night. According to his booking report, his arms, face, chest and abdomen were burned.