The residents of the 200 block of Lafayette Street in Tamaqua didn't have much sleep this morning after volunteer fire companies were called to the area for an odor investigation shortly before midnight.
Once inside the home at 227 Lafayette St., firefighters observed material commonly used to make methamphetamine and turned the investigation over to the Tamaqua Police Department.
Tamaqua Patrolmen Thomas Rodgers and Joseph Krebbs confirmed the firefighters' suspicions and called for a response from the Pennsylvania State Police Lab Response Team, based out of the Bethlehem State Police Barracks.
As the wait for the lab team began, the neighborhood was awash in lights and sounds from emergency vehicles police cruisers, firetrucks and ambulances.
The four adults and infant child within the home were treated to preliminary decontamination procedures as a safety measure.
Traffic was prohibited in the area as fire police from Tamaqua, Rush and Ryan Townships controlled access to the block.
It wasn't long before members of the lab response team were on site, offering their expertise, but they needed their truck and equipment to deal with the materials found inside the home.
Once the vehicle arrived, team members began their much too often rehearsed choreography, first donning hazardous materials suits, then preparing the equipment needed to safeguard the area.
As three team members entered the home, they kept in contact with the team leaders monitoring the situation from the street. Step by step, the trio examined every room, calling out each find, monitoring the air quality as they moved deeper into the home.
Finally they emerged, securing the hazardous material they found. Then came the fun part, rendering those materials harmless. The tension was as thick as the fog that began rolling in. Emergency personnel were moved out of what had become the "hot zone."
The lab team scientist then worked her magic, knowing that one small wrong move could bring about an explosion and fire. She knew quite well what havoc the volatile material could wreak.
By 4:30 a.m., the situation was neutralized and the firefighters were given the all clear. The clean up would take another 30 minutes or so, but the situation was under control and residents were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief, and maybe catch 40 winks before it was time to start the day.
One of the first firefighters who entered the home, Jason Green of Tamaqua Citizen's Fire Company, said, "Volunteer firefighters are taking classes to become familiar with what to look for in these types of situations. Once inside, our training kicked in. What we saw made us very sure we needed police assistance."
As of press time today, Tamaqua Police were preparing to arraign the four adults and declined to identify them until the arraignment. The infant was transferred to the custody of a family member.
Also assisting at the scene, were firefighters from the South Ward Fire Company, Rush Township Patrolman Adam Sinton and EMS personnel from the Tamaqua Ambulance Association.