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.”


Boxes of butane canisters. [Image provided by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department from an earlier incident.]

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.”


Box of used glass cylinders. [Image provided by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department from an earlier incident.]

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.”




  • I’ve seen and heard of many of these in Southern Humboldt. They are nasty-weird smell and lots of trash. Let’s go back to bubble bags? Anything but this cracked up enterprise.

  • We should have a countywide/statewide ban on butane canisters. The process is just too dangerous even in the most proficient of hands. People who do this in concentrated population areas especially in apartment complexes should be charged with attempted murder when their contraptions explode.

    Between the impact on the environment by the release of butane into the atmosphere, the inevitable dumping of said canisters by the side of the road, which happens down here in SoHum, and the potentially explosive nature of butane extraction, it pretty much shows how greedy and selfish these people are who have no regard for the consequences of their actions.

    CO2 extraction is way safer but the up-front costs of the equipment is too expensive for these low-lifes to consider.

    Ban butane canisters now!!!

    • What about the large bulk butane tanks?

    • I have a nice lantern that runs on butane. Funny, years ago I stocked up on fuel and bought a couple cases, only recently did I realize why I got a ‘look’ when I paid for them back then. Butane does have other uses than making crackahuana…..

      • Lazy Skunk Ranch

        I have a cooking stove that runs on butane, too. Very light and you can cook for hours and hours on a can of butane.

        Never have I thought of inhaling the can’s contents, or ingesting them in any way. Far too many people completely disconnected with the planet has made this hippy crack trendy.

        If butane canisters are to be banned, I think fake dreads should be banned as well because fake dreads seem to consume the majority of this crud. Reduction in fake dreads and their sales, will surely reduce the butane issue.

        How do we have so many people that are cut off from the planet?

    • Typical Liberal statement…”Let’s ban such and such…” We can’t enforce the law, therefore everyone should have to do without or be inconvenience while trying to make a purchase. Let’s punish the law biding citizen and go easy on the criminals…Will you never realize either jailing or shooting the criminal will deter the immediate problem. Making our children understand they, and they alone are responsible for their behavior, and will suffer the consequences of their actions will go a long ways in future criminal activity. It is time to grow up.

  • Lazy Skunk Ranch

    People are simply too LAZY to use ice water these days. Putting a deposit on these canisters would help clean up the trash.
    When canisters explode the bottom tends to fly in one direction, very hot, and very fast. Shocking you don’t read about people being killed by the shrapnel, because I’ve seen PAM can bottoms half melted and stuck in trees.
    Why people smoke that shit is beyond me, guess it’s the new kids on the block that aren’t connected to the planet, but to an image. I guess blame Eureka tweakers for mixing with the weed crowd and bringing the new hippy crack to mainstream.
    Banning Toyota trucks with 707 stickers or that stupid tree would be a giant leap forward.

    • The market is not there for bubble hash in the same way as for BHO. It’s not laziness, but economic opportunity.

  • So awesome!!! Yes!! Making drugs and blowing yourself up!!! Yes!! Yes!! I want more!!

  • What we need is not a ban, it’s Adam Smith’s invisible hand!

    Let competent people with properly engineered equipment do this, and watch this problem shrink.

    Sure, the Werc Shop shouldn’t be competing with their testing customers, but at least they were running closed-loop CO2 systems. Busting them probably contributed to dozens of these explosions by opening up market space.

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