A refrigerator that exploded in San Diego Thursday led police to finding marijuana plants and a hash oil extraction operation in the California home. Authorities say the fire caused by the eruption took firefighters about 30 minutes to put out, AP reports.
A neighbor reported flames coming from the home in the city’s Encanto neighborhood at about 4:20 p.m., San Diego fire spokesman Maurice Luque told U-T San Diego. No one was injured in the explosion, but police officers discovered hash oil was being made in the home. They took three people into custody for questioning.
In the past year, explosions caused by hash oil have risen in San Diego, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Law enforcement has responsed to three significant explosions in the area, including one at a hotel in January that severely burned three people, ABC 10 News reports. The DEA has found at least six other hash oil operations, but no explosions were reported.
Hash oil, also known as BHO, has risen in popularity among marijuana users. The substance ranges in consistencies from hard amber-colored to soft earwax-like goop. A piece the size of a Tic-Tac could be as potent as smoking an entire joint, Rolling Stone magazine reports. Hash oil is extracted by putting marijuana into a tube and forcing a solvent, which is usually the highly flammable gas butane, through it. The solvent is evaporated, leaving just the plant’s resins -- most of which contains psychoactive chemicals, including high levels of THC that can exceed 80 percent.
The DEA says hash oil extraction operations are motivated by money. One gram can sell for $30 to $80 on the streets. YouTube videos that show how to make hash oil don’t help either, officials say.
"What they do not provide you with is an indication of just how dangerous that procedure can be," Patrick Kelly, acting assistant special agent in charge from the DEA's Narcotic Task Force, told ABC 10 News.