Local News

Man charged in Raleigh home meth lab explosion

Posted August 9, 2012 11:15 p.m. EDT
Updated August 10, 2012 2:19 p.m. EDT

— Authorities said Friday the manufacture of methamphetamine sparked an explosion that rocked a north Raleigh home the night before.

The two-story house at 2708 Pidgeon Hill Road, off Ray Road, caught fire after the explosion on the second floor about 9:30 p.m. 

After putting out the fire, crews discovered hazardous materials on the second floor and pulled out of the house.

The homeowner, who was in the dwelling at the time of the incident, was arrested. Ralph Edward Bradsher, 48, was charged with a felony count of maintaining a dwelling with a controlled substance, according to the Wake County jail. He was held on a $25,000 secured bond.

Emergency crews decontaminated Bradsher immediately after the explosion, and he was seen lying on his front lawn.

There were no injuries reported and adjacent homes were not damaged, authorities said.

Bradsher faces up to 24 months in prison on the charge, and he is due in court against Aug. 29 on a previously scheduled probation violation.

Multiple agencies were called to the scene, including the State Bureau of Investigation. Authorities worked through the night and into Friday morning to investigate the cause of the explosion.

SBI agents spent the morning documenting the chemicals found in the house. They said a number of chemicals used in making methamphetamine were recovered. Cans of kerosene or cooking fuel could be seen in front of the home.

Raleigh police, which was among the first responders, on Friday released a recording of the 911 call made by a neighbor shortly before 9 p.m.

"It's the second time today there's been a loud, strong boom that shook my house," the person told the call-taker. The recording was redacted and altered to disguise the caller's voice, as required by state law.

Methamphetamine is a controlled substance with limited medical use, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It increases feelings of pleasure in the brain, and chronic use can lead to impaired function.

A majority of meth is created in foreign and domestic labs using components found in cold medicine, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. The chemical process to "cook" it can be highly unstable, sparking explosions.

According to a 2009 national survey, more than 12 million Americans ages 12 or older reported using meth at least once in their lifetime.