Sarasota Police say Lido Beach condo used as meth lab

11:51 PM, Dec 4, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Lido Beach condo used as meth lab

A blackened 12th-floor balcony marks the condo unit where a fire broke out Tuesday morning. Investigators believe a meth lab sparked the fire.


Lido Beach, Florida - Lido Beach is known for vacationers and retirees, and now it appears to be a good place to hide out if you are running a meth lab... unless a fire breaks out, which is what happened Tuesday morning.

What started out as a structure fire has quickly turned into two criminal investigations: one by the Sarasota Police Department and DEA and another by the State Fire Marshall.

"Meth labs are usually found in rural areas. This is 12th story apartment," says Sgt. Jim DeNiro with the Sarasota Police Department.

On the 12th floor of the Lido Regency in unit 12-B sits a Meth lab with a view of the Gulf of Mexico from Lido Beach.

Related Link: Florida registry of meth homes

Condo owner Chuck Amstutz says, "I'm amazed, I'm amazed... but it's everywhere these days."

No one ever thought it'd be here on Lido Beach, in a condominium complex filled with retirees. Ursula Brink lives on the 13th floor above the unit with the meth lab."I've lived here 24 years. It's a very secure good building, never any problems."

Except for one: tenants say the young man renting Unit 12-B. Sigrid Rothauge lives in the condominium complex. She says, "He's been a problem. He was being evicted at the end of the month."

The secret was out when a fire broke out in 12-B before 9 Tuesday morning. The smoke alarm sounded and tenants in 22 units evacuated. Firefighters find the makings of a meth lab inside, putting the tenants and building in danger.

Captain Susan Pearson with the Sarasota Fire Department says, "There were oxygen tanks, gas cylinder tanks and hazardous chemicals. They did not explode, but because they were heated and charred it makes them vulnerable and they can explode."

Firefighters defused the situation. While police and the State Fire Marshall investigate the condo, owners are staying at the Holiday Inn down the street, anxious to return home.

Brink says, "I live here year-round. I have all my possessions in my unit. I wonder if it's safe, damaged or gone."

Firefighters say all the tenants evacuated safely and no one was hurt, but seven firefighters were taken to the hospital for chemical exposure. Some of the tenants have returned to their condos, but others will be displaced for a while, due to water damage to their units.

Sarasota police are looking for the young man renting condo unit 12-B. 

Isabel Mascarenas

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