Butane Extraction Labs in Humboldt: Two Explosions, Two Fires in 15 Minutes
Arcata Police (APD) suspect a butane honey oil lab caused the explosion in the 2500 block of Alliance Road around 2 p.m. yesterday. (That explosion was followed within 15 minutes by another in McKinleyville also believed to be caused by an illegal butane extraction lab.) According to Sgt. Chris Ortega of the APD, “On the initial search for additional victims, items were found consistent with those used in the cannabis manufacturing process using butane.”
Ortega said that officers then secured a search warrant for the apartment and found “a pile of marijuana and a cylinder that is commonly used [in the manufacture of concentrated cannabis,] and numerous butane canisters.”
Ortega doesn’t believe the two suspected butane extraction lab explosions (this one in Arcata and the other in McKinleyville) that occurred within minutes of each other and only a few miles apart are related. “There is no suspected nexus to that,” he said. “I think it is a coincidence.” He says that butane extraction labs are common in the area and “it goes on every day throughout the county.”The labs, Ortega says, are hazardous. He stated that using butane, a highly flammable gas, to extract marijuana oil can be “very dangerous…any kind of a spark can cause an explosion.”
An explosion he said, “poses a risk to neighbors” and, of course, to the person doing the extraction. In this case, one of the suspects has “severe burns to his upper and lower body.”Arcata Police expect that the suspects in the case will face legal consequences. “We are anticipating filing charges,” Ortega said. Not only will the suspects (Ortega isn’t ready to name them but says there are at least two) face charges of manufacturing a controlled substance but they will also face charges of causing a fire to an inhabited structure–“both felony level charges,” he points out.
Ortega suggests that if neighbors suspect that someone is manufacturing cannabis near them that they call law enforcement. Signs of manufacturing include empty butane canisters, “odd cylinders,” large amounts of marijuana trim or strange odors. Those reporting the suspicious circumstances, he said, “can be anonymous or identify themselves but request anonymity.”