An explosion and fire at an Anaheim strip mall was caused by an illicit drug lab operation, police said Thursday, and investigators were looking for a possible suspect seen running from the location with “extensive burns.”
The man burned in the explosion may be 35-year-old Frederic Tabora of Anaheim, according to Anaheim police Sgt. Daron Wyatt. Investigators said evidence from the scene indicates Tabora was injured in the explosion.
Tabora was arrested following a similar explosion on Jan. 20, 2016, at 2000 W. Blue Violet Court in Anaheim that caused more than $450,000 in damage to a structure, Wyatt said.
Firefighters and police responded about 9:55 p.m. Wednesday to reports of an explosion at 410 S. Euclid St. and discovered a small fire on the outside of the building, which was quickly extinguished, according to Anaheim Fire and Rescue.
Numerous cans of butane were found at the rear of one of the businesses and it appeared someone was trying to extract honey oil, fire Capt. Mark Dunn said shortly after the explosion. Honey oil is usually consumed by smoking, vaping or eating and may be sold in cartridges used with pen vaporizers.
“Investigators have confirmed the explosion/fire was caused when butane came into contact with an ignition source during a Butane Honey Oil extraction,” Wyatt said in a statement Thursday morning.
“The explosion and fire initiated outside at the rear of the business,” Wyatt said. “The physical damage was limited to about $20,000. The location was set up exclusively to illegally manufacture THC edibles and THC wax. We are trying to determine who was leasing the suite.
“At least one person fled with extensive burns and we have not located that person yet,” Wyatt said. “These operations are extremely dangerous, so much so that Gov. (Jerry) Brown signed legislation a few years ago making it a felony to do this within 1,000 feet of residences.”
A witness told a news photographer at the scene that he saw a man in his 30s with extensive burns to his face, arms and legs running away from the location. The witness, who owns a business in the strip mall, said his place rocked when the explosion occurred and he thought another earthquake had struck.
Anyone with information was urged to call Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS.
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