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9-year-old girl rescued, couple arrested after meth-lab fire

Orlandosentinel.com, February 1, 2014

A 9-year-old girl escaped injuries after she was left alone when a methamphetamine lab caught on fire in a garage at a Volusia County home.

A woman and her boyfriend — Melissa Berry and Jonathan Coburn, both 35, — were arrested Friday and charged with several crimes, including child neglect, after the garage fire near Orange City.

"The child was turned over to relatives," Brandon Haught, a spokesman for the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said in a report.

The girl was taken to Florida Hospital Fish Memorial in Orange City as a precaution. But she wasn't hurt.

Someone called 911 at 3:45 p.m. Friday and said white smoke was coming from a garage in a house on W. Wisconsin Ave.

"A deputy and Volusia County Fire Services personnel arrived on scene and asked the neighbor if he knew if anyone was inside the home," Haught said. "He didn't think so, but then a moment later the girl came out of the house and told the deputy that she had been inside alone."

Firefighters put out the small fire and identified a methamphetamine lab in the garage as the source of the fire.

Two marijuana plants and growing equipment were also found in the home

"While the first responders were working, Coburn and Berry arrived at the house and spoke with deputies. Berry said that she lived at the home with her live-in boyfriend of two years, Coburn, and they leased the house together,'' Haught wrote.

"Berry said she was at work at the time of the fire and Coburn said he had gone to a store. While both adults were gone, the girl was at the house alone after school."

They told deputies they didn't know anything about drugs or the meth lab.

Chemicals and equipment commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine, and methamphetamine oil, which is the nearly finished product, were found in the garage, Haught wrote.

Coburn and Berry also face charges of manufacture of methamphetamine, arson of an occupied dwelling and cultivation of cannabis.

They were booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.