A possible methamphetamine lab was located at the scene of a former flea market turned homeless camp that caught fire Saturday, destroying some metal buildings, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
Patrol units from the MCSO were called to assist firefighters in the ongoing investigation of the two-alarm fire that broke out shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday at the former La Mexicana Flea Market, 5715 15th St. E, in Oneco.
Smoke filled the sky, and flames engulfed a row of metal buildings at the south end of the property. Other buildings in the former flea market were in visible disrepair but unaffected by the fire.
According to the MCSO, fire department officials said the possible meth lab, which was discovered around 7 a.m. Sunday, was not present during their investigation Saturday.
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The fire caused homeless people who had been using the former flea market as shelter to scatter into nearby woods and parking lots. There were no reports of injuries.
Lieutenant Melvin Bonds of Southern Manatee Fire Rescue said Saturday that the buildings affected by the fire would be bulldozed once the fire marshal completes an investigation. People who are familiar with the site said about 12 to 15 buildings were not burned, and Bonds said those buildings would not be razed.