Hiawatha Man Faces Federal Meth Charge Following November Fire

By Lee Hermiston, The Gazette

A Hiawatha man faces a federal meth charge for a fire that damaged several homes there last November.

The Hiawatha police and fire departments responded to a mobile home fire in the Tower Terrace mobile home park on Chickadee Lane around 2:15 a.m. on Nov. 13, 2013. According to federal court documents, while investigating the fire, a police officer saw Michael Lala, 26, walking away from the area of the fire. The fire, which destroyed three homes and damaged two others, originated in Lala’s residence, according to court documents.

Court documents state that state fire marshal special agent Justin Wade assisted in the investigation and located empty pseudoephedrine packaging and a AA battery casing. Pseudoephedrine and lithium battery strips are both used in the manufacturing of meth.

Based on their investigation, officials determined the fire was caused by the manufacturing of meth. A Hiawatha Police Department investigator interviewed Lala at the Linn County Jail on June 11 and learned that Lala was in the process of cooking meth in the residence with his equipment tipped over and started the fire, according to court documents.

Lala now faces one count of attempting to manufacture meth.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@sourcemedia.net

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