In this photo taken Sunday, March 4, 2012, residents, left, wait on an enclosed porch while firefighters check out a fire and explosion caused by a meth lab in a room at Park Haven Nursing Home in Ashtabula, Ohio. The fire killed one person and injured six. (AP Photo/The Star-Beacon, Robert Lebzelter)
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The northeast Ohio nursing home where a man was killed and several other people were injured in a fire from a methamphetamine lab was cited last year for inadequate care and numerous other violations, state records show.
An initial investigation of the Sunday fire at Park Haven Home in Ashtabula, east of Cleveland, indicated the blaze broke out in a room where someone apparently had brought in what was needed to make meth, rather than a room used as a makeshift lab, the Ohio Department of Health said.
“It sounds like this was more of a problem with a visitor than a resident,” department spokeswoman Tessie Pollock said.
The fire damaged one room and part of a second-floor hallway. Auditor’s records show the nursing home has 31 rooms.
Shaun Warrens, 31, of Ashtabula died Monday at a Cleveland hospital. He was not a patient or an employee of the home. Another non-resident and three residents were hospitalized after the fire. Their conditions were not known Tuesday. Two other people were treated at the scene.
Police Chief Robert Stell told the Star Beacon of Ashtabula that police believe two visitors and one Park Haven resident knew about the meth lab. Police expect to charge two men who also were burned in the fire.
The home did not respond to a message left Tuesday. An attorney on Monday said Park Haven would have no comment.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant. Mobile meth labs, also called one-pot or shake-and-bake labs, usually consist of a 2-liter bottle and the drug’s ingredients, said Bob Frey, the health department’s chief of health assessment.
“Basically, you can take all of the components and equipment and put it in a backpack and use it to brew a small quantity of methamphetamine,” he said. “It’s a highly dangerous but very self-contained method of making methamphetamine.”
Shaking the mixture agitates the chemicals and produces the heat needed to cook the drug. But it can also cause a violent reaction that could melt or rupture the container. The explosion or fire usually is confined to the person making the drug and the surrounding area, Frey said.
Besides the health department and local police, the state Department of Aging and the Department of Job and Family Services also are looking into the fire.
Alleged violations found in a December survey included: inadequate care; failure to investigate how a resident was injured; and improperly responding to residents’ complaints about missing property.
A review of the home in June resulted in citations for violations that alleged Park Haven failed to provide proper care for a resident in pain from a fractured leg and another whose vital signs changed critically.
A federal rating system gives the nursing home one star out of five — the lowest possible on health inspections and quality measures. Inspectors noted 11 fire safety violations in 2010 and 2011, including a finding that the building did not have a written emergency evacuation plan.
The state fire marshal’s office inspected the home last May and found only a minor problem with an exit, which was later fixed, spokesman Shane Cartmill said.
With the ongoing investigation, Ashtabula police Lt. William Parkomaki said police will not release details of how the lab was set up.
It’s not uncommon for meth labs to be discovered in abandoned buildings, isolated properties or residences. Parkomaki said the Park Haven lab was the first he’s heard of in a nursing home.
Associated Press writers Kevin Begos in Pittsburgh and JoAnne Viviano in Columbus contributed to this report.