What he was cooking was crystal meth, a scourge drug that is becoming more and more prevalent in Toronto.
"Unfortunately, crystal meth is here," says Staff-Insp. Mario DiTommaso, head of the drug squad. "It is becoming prime time in my morning reports (from officers in the field.)
"Not only is it dangerous to make because of the volatility of the chemicals used, it is also an extremely addictive drug, more so than crack cocaine."
While hazardous chemicals were indeed discovered at the scene of the Craven Rd. fire, necessitating a hazmat team being called in to both tame and contain the chemicals, the actual drug being manufactured was not revealed.
But it was crystal meth.
In fact, according to DiTommaso, some 35 kilos of crystal meth was seized that day, giving it a street value of approximately $1.4 million.
A little farther from home, an "extremely brilliant" chemistry student from Gatineau -- formerly Hull, Que. -- was sent home with restrictive bail conditions not long ago, after the RCMP seized enough red phosphorous to cook up $9 million worth of crystal meth.
It was the largest bust of a crystal meth operation in the national capital's history, and still is.
Red phosphorous -- a tonne of which was found in steel barrels in a storage unit allegedly rented by Dominique Dupont -- is normally used to make road flares, fireworks and safety matches, although meth is much more lucrative.
Its addictive powers, in fact, are overpowering.
Charged that day with possessing "precursor chemicals" for crystal methamphetamine, Dupont, 24, was ordered to shut down his website, e-mail and eBay accounts, and steer clear of all mobile communication devices.
The young chemist, whose home purportedly sported expensive cars in the driveway, was listed as the director of a Gatineau-based company named Exchem Incorporee, and appeared on eBay ads selling meth-making ingredients such as pure iodine crystals. One ad even promised discreet shipping to Canada or the U.S., with a full money-back guarantee, "Just like at Wal-mart!"
Products listed for sale on the Exchem website included aluminum powder, ammonium nitrate, citric acid, ethylene glycol, glycerine and hexamine -- all used in meth production, and all obtainable with relative ease.
The true face of crystal meth, however, will never been found in the face of the chemist, not unless he breathes the volatile fumes of his own toxic concoction.
The true face of crystal meth is the face of the user, and the quick deterioration of the body and the mind.
Like the meth addicts pictured here, their before and after shots having gone viral since first appearing in The Oregonian newspaper back in 2006 as part of a Frontline documentary called The Meth Epidemic.
These pictures, in fact, appear prominently near the visitors' registration desk at the Central East Detention Centre in Lindsay, the so-called provincial superjail, and cannot be avoided by people entering the security area.
Those pictures stare them in the face.
This, the pictures scream, could be you.
SHORTAGE OF COCAINE
This year alone, the evidence lockers at Toronto police have approximately 40,000 grams of crystal meth in storage, the majority seized during the arrest of street-level users.
"It's creeping into Toronto more and more," says a Toronto Police crime analyst. "When there is a shortage of cocaine, as there is now, there will be a rise in crystal meth.
"And, once you're on it, you're on it for good. It is not an easy addiction to walk away from."
A warning to ravers.
Dealers are now routinely mixing meth into Ecstasy tabs with such regularity that DiTommaso cannot recall the last seizure of Ecstasy that was not at least 50% methamphetamine.
"There is a perception among ravers that Ecstasy is harmless," he says. "Well, don't believe it.
"It's all laced with meth."