The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 6, 2012

Meth lab blast kills one at nursing home

Counsel for Park Haven won’t comment on explosion, fire

Staff Writer

ASHTABULA — Authorities say a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory caused the fiery explosion that rattled Park Haven Nursing Home Sunday night, fatally injuring a man and burning four others.

Shaun Warrens, 31, of Ashtabula was reported dead.

Three men, who were reportedly “engulfed in flames,” were among five transported by ambulance to Ashtabula County Medical Center, and two other people were treated and released at the scene, according to a nurse at the scene, police and an Ashtabula Fire Department report.

Warrens was sent to MetroHealth Burn Care Center in Cleveland, but succumbed to his injuries Monday morning, according to the fire department’s report.

Drug charges are pending against two of the other men who were burned in the fire, Police Chief Robert Stell said.

Police are not releasing any names until charges have been filed and the men have been arraigned in Municipal Court, he said.

At Park Haven, the executive director would not come to the phone to comment. A man who would only identify himself as “counsel for the facility” also would not comment, citing the ongoing investigation. He would not give his name.

The fire alarm sounded at Park Haven, 4533 Park Ave., at 8:37 p.m. Sunday. Upon arrival, firefighters discovered smoke and fire in room 18 on the second floor, according to firefighter’s report and witnesses at the scene.

Nurse Deanna Bigley said she saw two or three men engulfed in flames in the room. She said they were visitors. She and the staff started removing the nursing home’s 38 residents from their rooms and onto the screened front porch, where they were counted and given sheets and blankets to keep warm.

Stell said the three men that police believe were aware of the meth lab were two visitors and one Park Haven resident. He would not expand on the information because it’s an ongoing criminal investigation.

The sprinklers had activated, helping to contain the blaze to that room, the firefighter’s report stated.

Firefighters from Ashtabula and Saybrook townships assisted the city in fighting the fire and placing ventilation fans throughout the building, according to the city fire department’s report.

No firefighters were injured. They stayed on the scene until 1:45 a.m. Monday.

On Monday afternoon, nursing home officials had closed off the second floor room for safety reasons.

Officials at the Ohio Department of Health in Columbus said Park Haven is required to report fires and other such occurrences, according to state and national guidelines. The ODH inspects health care facilities to make sure they remain up to state and national standards. They had no information on Park Haven on Monday.

This isn’t the first time Park Haven has been in the news. About 12 years ago, a disgruntled employee shot and killed the director and injured a nurse.