Vancleave man severely burned in meth lab explosion

Jason Ethan Fortenberry
Jason Ethan Fortenberry
(Photo source: Jackson Co. Narcotics Task Force)
(Photo source: Jackson Co. Narcotics Task Force)

By WLOX Staff

VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - A Vancleave man is fighting for his life after firefighters found him burning alive in his truck Thursday afternoon.

When Vancleave firefighters arrived at 15608 Omas Road, they found a Ford F-150 truck fully engulfed in flames. Inside, 36-year-old Jason Ethan Fortenberry was severely burned from the waist down. Fortenberry's burns were so severe, he was immediately flown to the University of South Alabama Burn unit.

Once firemen extinguished the vehicle fire, officers found the remnants of a "shake-n-bake" Meth lab. Officials with the Jackson County Narcotics Task Force said that explosion caused the initial fire. Agents said they also located a partially burnt Ammonia Lab in the bed of the truck, as well as assorted chemical precursors used to manufacture methamphetamine hidden in a plastic tote bin in the woods near the vehicle.

This isn't the first time NTF agents have dealt with Fortenberry. He was arrested June 11, 2009 for Manufacturing Methamphetamine. After posting bond, Fortenberry was arrested six days later and charged with possession of Methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Fortenberry's previous bond was then revoked, forcing him to stay in jail.

Then, during a visit to Singing River Hospital, he jumped out of a second story window and escaped. Pascagoula police officers caught up with him a short time later, and Fortenberry was back behind bars.

Even after all that, Fortenberry's attorney was able to negotiate his release in September so he could enroll in a drug rehabilitation program.

If Fortenberry is lucky enough to survive, he'll have to endure a different kind of rehab. Friday evening, he was listed in critical condition.

If you have information concerning this investigation or other drug activity, you're asked to contact the Narcotics Task Force of Jackson County at (228) 769-3302, or email at

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