Cops: Bathroom meth-lab sparks fire in Clearwater apartment

- A fire investigation has turned into a criminal investigation following a residential fire overnight in Clearwater.

Clearwater Police and Clearwater Fire & Rescue say the flames broke out around 11:30 p.m. at a unit in the Turnberry Apartment complex on U.S. 19 North.  

First responders said a man and a 32-year-old woman were in the apartment at the time. The woman was flown by medical helicopter to Tampa General Hospital with life-threatening burns to 80 percent of her body. 

An investigation has since shed light on what sparked the flames.

“When we first arrived, we were led to believe it was some type of cooking dinner situation- that it was a grease fire- however we subsequently have discovered that wasn’t the situation at all,” explained Clearwater police spokesperson Rob Shaw. “They were cooking methamphetamine in the bathroom , and that’s how the flash fire occurred that burned this woman so severely.”

Officials have since arrested the man in the home at the time, Bryan McDowell.

According to Shaw, investigators believe he collected all of the evidence and threw it in a dumpster on the premises before he called 911. 

He's been charged for tampering with evidence.

The fire marshal remains on scene and police are waiting on a search warrant so they can reenter the apartment to continue their investigation.

FOX 13 will continue with updates as they become available.

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