Humboldt Bay Fire Says They Will No Longer Risk Crews by Sending them Into Sites of Suspected Hash Lab Explosions

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Fire crews at the scene of a suspected hash lab explosion last November. [Photo by Oliver Cory.]


Press release from Humboldt Bay Fire:

The manufacture of concentrated cannabis-related products (e.g. “hash labs”) is causing significant public safety challenges within our community. Concentrated cannabis, known as “shatter”, “wax”, “dabs”, “honey” or various other names is commonly produced using a solvent extraction technique to draw THC out of marijuana plant material. In this process butane is the most commonly used solvent. Butane Hash Oil (BHO) extraction is highly dangerous and oftentimes results in explosions and associated structural fires.Many local fire agencies and community members have witnessed the appalling consequences of BHO-related explosions.

Frequently these explosions and subsequent fires cause major structural damage including shattered windows, doors blown completely out of their jambs, load-bearing walls displaced from foundations, and roofs lifted off of supporting walls. In many cases this extraction technique results in severe burn and blast injuries to BHO lab operators. In addition, innocent bystanders, including children, have been burned or otherwise seriously injured as BHO-related fires spread.

These fires also present significant risks to firefighters and other first responders. Firefighters who have responded to these types of incidents report high-intensity fires which are difficult to extinguish. Due to structural compromise and the potential for secondary explosions there is significant risk of injury or loss of life to personnel who are extinguishing BHO-caused fires.

As a result, Humboldt Bay Fire is modifying our approach to these incidents. If indicators of a hash oil extraction lab are present (e.g. structural blast damage and presence of butane canisters or cylinders) we will no longer attack these fires by sending personnel inside of the damaged structure. Instead we will assume a “defensive” position and attack the fire from the exterior, using window and door openings to spray water for fire extinguishment. We will continue to aggressively protect nearby homes and other buildings which could potentially catch fire due to spread from the originating hash lab.

At the core of the Humboldt Bay Fire’s mission is to save lives and protect property. As such we will continue to perform searches of these buildings to rescue injured or trapped occupants. If a BHO lab explosion occurs in apartments or other multi-family dwellings we will focus our efforts on protecting other attached living units and detached surrounding properties.

Humboldt Bay Fire remains committed to delivery of excellent service, particularly through our efforts to protect life, property, and the environment.

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10 comments

  • So are you going to come to a gas station fire…what if Ace hardware is on fire…they have propane and other explosive and fire accelerants.

    • How often have you seen a gas station or hardware store on fire? Now compare that to the amount of BHO labs…

    • It’s not like they are going to send firefighters into the middle of a gas station fire or any other fire where known explosion hazards exists. Normal residential fires rarely contain hundreds or thousands of cans of explosive fuel. The point is, if they suspect that they are dealing with a hash lab fire they are not risking their life to save property that the worthless idiot put in jeopardy. I don’t blame them. Their focus will be protecting the lives and property of the innocent neighbors that are unfortunate enough to be stuck with these ass holes living next to them.

  • One of the first rules of emergency response is ‘No new victims’. Situations are judged by known dangers and response is conducted accordingly, be it a store/business or a home containing known flammable/explosive products.
    A dead or injured responder – medical or firefighter – does no one any good, and ties up other responders who would otherwise be working on the incident.
    So they will continue to respond to these fires, but they will attack them in a more cautious way.

  • What if there are innocent children or animals inside? I understand the need to impose limits, but children are not assholes, and have nothing to do with the hash labs.

  • I’d like to know why one of the newest and biggest underwriters at kmud is the BHOgart extraction folks. Who are you guys? This immediately supports this kind of outdated, unhealthy (on many levels) form of getting high on weed. So way to go kmud ! And way to go bhogart, bhogarting safety, bhogarting good medixine, bhogarting the airwaves. Have funnd dabbing. I quit dabbin before it was even cool. Sugar from Eugene, holla

  • Good policy for the Fire Department – I also think they should bill the cost to respond to these types of fires to the people living in the residence (responsible for paying rent).

  • I read that the last fire happened because a BHO vessels weld failed.
    Are these vessels being welded by a ASME welder and being certified?

    I work with propane and all my gear has to be certified and current.
    I can’t weld together my own tanks.

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