Butane used in hash-oil production caused Seattle explosion, police say

SEATTLE -- Police say someone trying to make hash oil from marijuana plants is to blame for an apartment explosion that rocked a south Seattle neighborhood Tuesday afternoon.

In the last several months, there have been seen several cases of explosions caused by hash oil production in our area.

In the most recent case, someone was trying to extract hash oil from marijuana using butane.  While the apartment was vacant, the butane tanks exploded, causing a blast so powerful that firefighters said it moved one side of the building six inches off its foundation.

Shattered glass, busted windows and a damaged roof is what’s left of the apartment in the 2800 block of South McClellan Street.  No one was injured in the blast.

“It was a huge explosion like a bomb detonated the building,” witness Maile Carlson said.

The deafening blast damaged Carlson’s Hawaiian flower shop located inside the same building.

“Everything just came off the walls, off the shelves,” customer Darrell Christensen said.

Christensen and Carlson at first thought a car had crashed into the business. An apartment explosion is the last thing they expected.

“I could see the door was blown off and you could see the fridge door was off,” Christensen said.

Firefighters say containers of butane were stored in the freezer.
When the gas leaked, it was just a matter of time.

“Butane gas is heavier than normal oxygen, you have a refrigerator that is full of gas that has nowhere to go but to go out,” Seattle Fire Department spokesperson Kyle Moore said.

Police said they also confiscated a substantial amount of marijuana plants from inside the apartment. Authorities say someone was using the butane to strip marijuana plants to make hash oil, a highly concentrated extract.

It’s a process that can be readily found on the Web. Some people experimenting with the dangerous combination call it “simple” but Tuesday’s explosion is yet another example of the dangers.

“This type of butane is explosive and you don’t want it around residential areas,” Moore said.

The owner of the apartment told Q13 Fox News he is leasing the space but police say the renter hasn’t been seen since November.  The two people shaken to the core by the explosion say they are lucky they are in one piece.

“Just a little shaken, but good,” Carlson said.

“That’s what you think afterwards, like, wow, that’s bigger than I thought it was,” Christensen said.

In the past few months there have been at least  three similar cases. On Jan. 2,  two men were arrested for making hash oil after an explosion damaged two apartments in Kirkland. A home in Mount Vernon was also blown up after homeowners tried to extract hash oil from a marijuana plant. In August, up to 60 firefighters battled a two-alarm blaze at the Hampton Greens Apartment in Bellevue. Ten units were destroyed.