Toddler sustains critical burns in Fresno drug lab explosion, police say

Dell Lamont Young
Dell Lamont Young Fresno Police Department

A Fresno man was arrested Tuesday after his 1-year-old son sustained second- and third-degree burns in what investigators believe was a fire caused while marijuana was being converted to honey oil.

Sgt. Tim Tietjen of the Fresno police Major Narcotics Team said officers responded to a call of a blast at 12:30 p.m. at an apartment at 266 N. Calaveras Ave., near downtown Fresno. Dell Lamont Young, 37, was booked on four counts of child endangerment.

Honey oil is manufactured when butane is used as a solvent to dissolve cannabis into a potent solution that creates an “intense high,” according to Tietjen. However, butane is highly flammable, and heavier than air. During the process of making the oil, butane fumes can drift along the floor of a home and come in contact with a flame, such as a hot water heater pilot light, causing a violent explosion.

In this case, Tietjen said the honey oil was being made in the bathroom of the apartment. The toddler was playing in the same room when the explosion erupted and he was burned on his face, arms and legs.

The injuries “will affect this little guy for the rest of his life,” said Tietjen, who noted that while marijuana is legal in California, it is still a felony to run a lab manufacturing honey oil.

In March, two people, one a child, were hospitalized after a fire that investigators believe started when a honey oil lab erupted at Huntsman and Chestman avenues south of Fresno.