AUBURNDALE — The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is about to file charges against a man who got injured when a methamphetamine lab in his camper exploded. A second man is wanted for having a marijuana grow operation on a separate camper lot.
It happened on Thursday, Sept. 27, when detectives were notified of an explosion at a mobile home on a lot at 201 Fish Haven Road in Auburndale. When detectives got to the scene and began investigating the explosion, they came to believe a meth lab was not only operating there, but had caused the explosion and subsequent damage to both the camper and its owner.
The explosion did quite a number on the camper, detectives said, since they found that the sliding out portion of it had been separated from the rest of the mobile home and was laying on the ground. There were also items that had been inside the camper scattered around the property — which provided helpful clues to what had been going on in there, the sheriff’s office said.
Several items, including a meth lab “cook” bottle and other items that detectives say are commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine, were found near the camper.
Detectives obtained a search warrant, and proceeded to search the camper, a nearby truck parked on the lot, and a safe that had been inside the mobile home before the owner gave it to a neighbor, the sheriff’s office reports.
Inside the camper, detectives say, were numerous items used to manufacture methamphetamine, while the truck contained a gas mask and lithium batteries. The safe, retrieved by detectives from a neighbor, contained a Glock handgun.
The State Fire Marshal assisted with the investigation, and concluded that the explosion had been a direct result of the manufacturing of methamphetamine.
One of the suspects in this case was Christopher Shrader, 39, who lived in that camper on Lot 56. Because of the explosion, he was transported to Tampa General Hospital for treatment of severe chemical burns.
Before being transported, detectives would report, Shrader allegedly attempted to give some neighbors his safe. However, the safe was returned to the scene and handed over to investigators. According to detectives, a witness at the scene reported that Shrader had attempted to conceal items in the back of his truck parked beside the camper right after the explosion.
Investigators also seized the 2011 Chevrolet Pickup that Shrader owned. Detectives say a gas mask was hidden inside it. The truck had been paid off and has an estimated value of $24,000.
Detectives say they now believe Shrader may have been attempting to extract the chemical compound ether from a bottle when the fumes ignited, causing a large flash explosion.
But it wasn’t the only drug manufacturing operation that detectives looked into on Thursdat while at the Fish aven Road park.
While conducting the investigation at the methamphetamine lab on lot 56, detectives smelled marijuana emanating from a nearby lot, Number 54. After checking it out, Detectives started an investigation into this camper as well. They discovered that Richard Klein, 60, lived at the camper parked at 201 Fish Haven Road, Lot 54, full time. Klein wasn’t home when detectives began investigating the strong cannibas smell, so they got a separate search warrant for the camper.
During the search, detectives found what was described as an active cannabis grow operation in there. Detectives would leave the camper with a total of 43 cannabis plants that got seized, along with a digital scale, roughly one pound of processed cannabis, and a small amount of cocaine that was discovered.
Charges are pending against Shrader for manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of a listed chemical, and maintaining a dwelling for drug manufacturing.
A warrant has been issued for Klein’s arrest on charges of cultivation of marijuana, possession of cannabis with intent to sell, possession of marijuana over 20 grams, possession of cocaine, maintaining a dwelling for drug use, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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