A meth bust in a four-story hotel on a busy thoroughfare in North Charleston drove scores of residents outside for hours Wednesday.

Dozens of emergency workers, including firefighters, EMTs and the county hazmat unit, surrounded the Value Place on Northside Drive from about 1 p.m. until long after dark.

Charleston County deputies arrested a resident on a bad-check charge and found ingredients to make meth in his car, Capt. Mike Stanley said.

Specialists and backup units were called in to clean up the car and check to see if the man was cooking meth in his room. Residents said the evidence was in the air.

David Tobias and Ruth Crosby have been living in the hotel for about a month. They said they had been smelling noxious odors for the last several days. “It was like cat urine, a strong ammonia smell,” Crosby said. “It was making me too sick to eat.”

Residents stood outside in the parking lot or took shelter in a nearby hotel lobby or inside a CARTA bus that showed up to provide warm seats. Hotel management also brought out hot drinks and snacks. They declined to say how many residents were displaced.

Tobias and Crosby were standing near the bus in the dark about 7 p.m. “She's already been out here six hours, and they're talking about another three hours before we get back in,” Tobias said.

Meth-making fumes are hazardous, and a lab can easily explode.

“It amazes me that we're in a brand-new building with elderly people and children, and somebody is not being very considerate of everybody else's lives,” Crosby said. “It's terrifying to know that we could lay down to sleep one night and go boom.”

The man's name was not released Wednesday.


Earlier versions of this story incorrectly identified the hotel. The Post and Courier regrets the error.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.