An explosion led police to a meth lab in an apartment in downtown Waupaca.
Shortly before midnight, Saturday, May 25, Waupaca officers were dispatched to 108 Granite St. in response to an ambulance call.
A 23-year-old man, identified as Jeffrey Rudd by police, was severely burned. He was transported to Riverside Medical Center, then later transferred to a Milwaukee burn center, where he remains in critical condition as of Tuesday, May 28.
“According to witnesses, there was an explosion,” said Detective Sgt. Brian Hoelzel with the Waupaca Police Department.
He described the explosion as “a loud bang,” followed by a fire in an upper-story apartment.
Hoelzel said the fire department was not called to the incident, because residents put out the flames.
“After further investigation, we determined it was a meth lab explosion,” Hoelzel said.
The small, one-pot meth lab was apparently removed from the apartment prior to the officers and emergency medical personnel arriving at the scene.
“We located the meth lab hidden in a grill outside the building,” Hoelzel said.
The apartment building was temporarily evacuated the night of the incident.
The city called in a special task force with the Wisconsin Department of Justice to assist in the investigation.
Because the chemicals used to make methamphetamine are highly toxic and volatile, the Chicago Crime Scene Cleanup team responded over the weekend to safely remove the hazardous materials.
Hoelzel said the investigation is ongoing. He asked anyone with information to contact the Waupaca Police Department or Waupaca County Crime Stoppers at 888-258-9955, at www.waupacacountycrimestoppers.org or by texting a tip to 274637 and beginning the text with Waupaca.