Two arrested in Fort Payne meth bust after reporting fire

Lea Sims, left, Blake Tolbert
photo Lea Sims
photo Blake Tolbert

Officers and firefighters responding to a fire call at 65 Green Valley Circle in Fort Payne, Ala., on Tuesday found an active meth lab that sent a few officers to the hospital to be checked out for exposure to the fumes.

The homeowner, 51-year-old Lea Ann Sims, and 28-year-old Blake Tolbert of Pisgah, are being held at the city jail on charges of first-degree manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, Fort Payne Police Chief Randy Bynum said in a statement on the incident.

One of the two initially made the call to authorities about the fire but then "the caller called back saying everything was all right at the residence," Bynum said.

The home is about three-tenths of a mile from Fort Payne Middle School.

Firefighters and police officers continued to the home and found heavy smoke coming from Sims' house. When they made their way inside to remove any victims, they found the meth lab, Bynum said.

Officers and firefighters who were exposed to the fumes were treated at DeKalb Regional Hospital. The chief said DeKalb County Sheriff's Office investigators collected meth lab evidence and removed the toxic items from the home.