A house converted into an apartment complex in Highgrove erupted in flames Thursday after an illegal drug manufacturing lab in one of the units exploded, though no injuries were reported.
The fire started about 10:50 a.m. in the 300 block of West La Cadena Drive, near Center Street, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
The agency said 15 engine crews from both Riverside and San Bernardino counties were sent to the location and encountered a blaze raging in one apartment, extending to two adjacent ones.
Crews fully contained the fire by 11:45 a.m.
No occupants were located within the structure, and it was unclear whether the units were vacant, or the residents were out.
A battalion chief at the scene immediately identified the remnants of a butane honey oil lab in the residence where the fire broke out. However, there was no word on exactly what triggered the explosion.
Southern California Edison and SoCal Gas Co. technicians were summoned to shut off utilities at the location.
Honey oil, also known as “wax” or “hash,” is a liquefied marijuana derivative. Drug lab operators use butane stoves to extract tincture from cannabis plants that can be mixed with anything and bottled.
Numerous explosions and fires have occurred throughout the Inland Empire over the last decade as a result of home-based honey oil manufacturing. The practice has become so rampant and potentially destructive that the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office in 2017 released a series of public service announcements, warning of the dangers and consequences of making honey oil.
The series can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fSCMCwmlQw.
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