A screenshot from the LA Times Youtube video of the fire on Saturday.
18 May 2020

Explosion during Los Angeles fire injured 11 firefighters


Butane stored at a cannabis product distribution business likely to have started the fire 


A fire broke out in central Los Angeles during Saturday night, local time, reports several US media. The fire caused an explosion and 11 firefighters were injured.

The fire started in a commercial property in downtown Los Angeles and then spread to several buildings. 230 firefighters were called out to the scene.

When the firefighters tried to find the seat of the fire, a great explosion occurred. It was very loud, affected a large area, and shook the ground, according to Erik Scott, spokesman for the emergency services, who spoke to the LA Times newspaper.

The explosion was so powerful that a fire truck across the street was stained black and several of the firefighters' helmets melted.

Eleven firefighters were injured in the incident. Three of them are being treated for serious, but not life-threatening, injuries.

Two hours after the first alarm, the emergency services announced that the fire was mostly extinguished.

"What caused the fire is of great importance and we are actively investigating the matter," they write on their website.


Butane used for Cannabis products may have caused the fire

According to spokes person Erik Scott (see LA Times video above) the fire started in a business involved in the cannabis industry. They were allegedly a distributor of production equipment used by other business  involved in making so called Butane Honey Oil. 

"...The highly volatile solvent butane is used to extract THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)—the primary psychoactive component of the cannabis plant—from either marijuana or hash to produce BHO, a substance with as much as 90% THC and able to deliver a stronger and more powerful high than many other cannabis products", writes the website GreenhouseTreatment.com.

According to the CBC, Scott said "the building was a warehouse for SmokeTokes, which he described as a maker of "butane honey oil." Butane is an odourless gas that easily ignites, and it's used in the process to extract the high-inducing chemical THC from cannabis plants to create a highly potent concentrate also known as hash oil. The oil is used in vape pens, edibles, waxes and other products."

In countries where cannabis use os common, local police forces are often more concerned with the production labs involved making these types of oils, rather than with the users or dealers themselves. he reason is that fires and explosions are common during the production of hash oils, especially when the labs are illegal and housed in residential homes without appropriate safety measures.

This business in downtown Los Angeles appears to have been a part of the recently legalized cannabis industry in the State of California, however investigations will tell if any laws have been broken when the business chose to store butane gas in their facilities.

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