When a meth lab exploded in a quiet Hephzibah subdivision on a cloudy afternoon, many neighbors assumed the "boom" was just more thunder.
When the fire department and hazmat crews began unloading their gear Wednesday at a home at the 1500 block of Pine Ridge Drive East, they knew there was more to the story.
Authorities said James Danny Accord, 36, had two labs going simultaneously in the bathroom and kitchen of a friend's home when the explosion occurred in the kitchen at 5:25 p.m.
Roger Emory, who lives across the street, said he had noticed heavy traffic at the home for some time.
Another neighbor said it wasn't unusual to see someone in the yard chopping wood or cutting the grass at 2 a.m.
Despite suspicious activity, the news still came as a surprise.
"About the most we ever see in this neighborhood is a car speeding up the road," Emory said.
No fire resulted, but the blast blew out many of the home's windows.
"It blew up with such a force that it lifted the roof completely off the brick, ranch-style house," Richmond County sheriff's Sgt. Greg Meagher said. "It blew it and set it at a different angle.
He noticed all the furniture was broken and scattered in the house and initially thought the fire department had damaged it, but later discovered it was caused by the explosion.
"It looked as if a war had gone on inside the house," Meagher said.
The results were not unusual, but the location was. The majority of meth labs are found in hotel rooms, he said.
John Pressler, a neighbor, said he knew the home owner and always thought well of the family. He didn't know Accord.
"It doesn't make me feel comfortable," he said as he stared at the crime scene from his yard.
Accord was transferred to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital, where investigators were told he suffered burns to half his body and damage to his eyes and lungs.
Police records show Accord was charged in April with possession of meth and marijuana and in March 2004 with possession of meth.