At least one man suffered major injuries late Tuesday when a suspected butane honey oil laboratory exploded inside a K Street apartment near downtown Merced, the Police Department reported.
The explosion was reported at 11:20 p.m. in an apartment complex at 2355 K St., No. 102, Capt. Matt Williams said.
Police said all the apartment’s windows were blown out and major fire damage was found inside the home, including in the bathroom, which police said was “completely melted inside.”
Investigators said the home was being used as a clandestine laboratory to convert marijuana to hash oil, a dangerous process that involves butane and has been known to cause numerous dangerous explosions.
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“The suspect or suspects fled the area in a maroon-colored van prior to the arrival of police,” Williams said.
However, just after police were called to Emmanuel Medical Center in Turlock after a man arrived with “major burns that appeared very suspicious,” Williams said.
The 38-year-old man confirmed to police that he lives in the apartment that exploded. The man remained hospitalized Wednesday and had not been arrested in connection with the incident.
“But he refused to talk investigators. He said he lived there, but that’s all he would say,” Williams told the Sun-Star.
Police said it was fortunate that nobody else in the apartment was injured in the explosion.
“It shows just how dangerous those things are,” Williams said. “When you think of all the people who could live in an apartment complex, this could’ve been pretty horrific.”
Williams said the incident should remind residents of the importance of reporting suspicious activity.
“Especially if you think there might be one of these (honey oil) labs near you,” he said. “We’d really like people to let us know if they suspect something like that.”