By Edwin Folven, 1/31/2013
Man attempting THC extraction causes explosion in WeHo
An unidentified man was seriously burned on Jan. 25 after he allegedly caused an explosion in his West Hollywood apartment while trying to make hash oil from marijuana.
The explosion was reported around 6:50 p.m. at an apartment building in the 1200 block of Havenhurst Drive. When firefighters arrived, they found smoke emanating from the apartment, but no fire. According to Los Angeles County Fire Department inspector Tony Imbrenda, the explosion happened in a ground-floor apartment. The victim suffered third-degree burns to his face, neck and arms, and was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
“It was a fairly large response because it was an apartment building and we had reports of an explosion.” Imbrenda said. “When firefighters got there, they found light smoke and people self-evacuating. They immediately checked for gas leaks or other sources of the explosion. They never had an actual fire. The sheriff’s arson and explosives detail was called in to handle the investigation.”
Lt. Mike White, with the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, said the victim’s name and age is not being released because charges have not been filed. White said investigators believe the man was using a butane torch to extract chemicals from marijuana, and the butane exploded. The victim was still recovering as of Wednesday, and the incident is still under investigation. Authorities found a “small amount” of marijuana in the apartment.
“He was trying to make hash oil and the gas ignited, causing the subsequent explosion,” White said.
Imbrenda said most residents were allowed back in the apartment building around 11 p.m. The explosion primarily damaged the victim’s apartment and the unit above, both of which were deemed uninhabitable until repairs are made. The Red Cross assisted residents in the other apartments in finding temporary shelter.
White said it had not been determined what charges the victim may face, but it would likely be narcotics violations. The victim could also be cited by the city for code violations related to using the butane torch.
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