An explosion that severely burned one man in the Tower District Monday night was caused by a marijuana operation, Fresno fire investigators determined.
Koby Johns, spokesman for the Fresno Fire Department, said the explosion was caused by a marijuana "honey oil" operation, a process of extracting THC from the stems of marijuana plants.
Johns said the marijuana stems are ground up, placed in a canister of some sort -- usually a section of pipe -- and pressurized butane gas is applied which produces a "honey oil" residue of the ground-up stems for consumption.
"The extraction process is extremely dangerous due to the large amount of flammable vapors generated," Johns said. "These vapors are often ignited by the pilot lights of household appliances. In the last year, we have responded to at least five different structure fires that were the direct result of a 'honey oil' operation."
The man who occupied the unit where the explosion occurred was in his late 20s and received second- and third-degree burns to 80% of his body, Johns said. He was listed in serious condition Tuesday afternoon at Community Regional Medical Center. Authorities did not release his name.
The burn victim was found in his underwear outside the apartment by the time fire crews arrived.
Monday's apartment fire started around 9:30 p.m. at 105 E. Olive Ave. It caused $50,000 in damage and displaced seven families, Johns said. The American Red Cross helped them find shelter.
The explosion in the second-floor apartment of the two-story building threw debris from windows and doors into the street, Battalion Chief Tony Escobedo said.
Fire crews were able to contain the two-alarm fire to one room of the eight-unit apartment building. All of the units, however, suffered either fire or smoke damage and the roof was extensively damaged, Escobedo said.
The Fresno Fire Department released this video Tuesday of firefighters attacking Monday's fire in the Tower District.
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