By Bobbie Poynter
A Barbourville woman rushed her husband to the Knox County Hospital emergency room Tuesday afternoon with severe burns to both his arms and hands. Scottie Reeves, 39, of the Gausedale Community, told hospital staff he had been burning trash when something in the burn pile blew up. Due to the nature of the burns, ER staff suspected the man had been manufacturing methamphetamine and contacted the Knox County Sheriff’s Department. Deputy Buster Liford met Reeves at the emergency room and witnessed burn sores all over both of the man’s arms.
After gaining Reeves’ permission to search his house and property, Detective Liford, along with Knox County Sheriff Mike Smith, Deputy Claude Hudson and Constable Carl Bolton, drove out to the Reeves property, located eight miles out of Barbourville on South Highway 11.
There they found two elderly people still in the house, Reeves’ father, Tommy Reeves, and Margie Jones.
Early into the search of the property, deputies found meth precursors in the house, including tubing, coffee filters, Coleman fuel, Liquid Drano and propane. Just outside the front door deputies located one half of an HCL generator submerged in water.
More than 15 active and inactive one-step or shake-n-bake meth labs, as well as a multitude of meth precursors, were found scattered in and around the property near the house, including a recently exploded meth lab, which the officers suspect was the cause of the man’s burns.
“This is the largest lab I have ever seen,” said Deputy Hudson, making note of the fact that some of the labs appeared to be quite old while others were more recent.
“It’s (meth) of epidemic proportions in this area,” said Sheriff Smith. “And now we’re having to deal with the added problem of heroin, which is gaining a fast hold.”
Deputy Liford agreed with his boss. “Nearly every call we get has to do with meth. It’s a non-stop ongoing battle.”
Scottie Reeves was transferred later Tuesday afternoon from the Knox County Hospital to the University of Kentucky Burn Center for further treatment of his wounds.
After receiving medical treatment, Reeves will be arrested and will then face several charges, including possession of meth precursors, manufacturing meth, possession of drug paraphernalia, and three-to-five counts of wanton endangerment, as both adults were still in the house and another woman and a five-year-old child had been visiting at the time of the explosion.
Deputy Liford is in charge of the investigation.