LA County Fire Inspector Tony Akins says when firefighters got on the scene of what they expected to be a brush fire they found what looked more like a BHO lab. Akin says "there were butane tanks and pressure vessels," some of what you would find at such a makeshift lab. The site was a small home on Rattlesnake Road just off Encinal Canyon Road in Malibu. The site of the possible drug lab is right next to a Department of Corrections Prison Camp. In fact, a foreman at the camp called in the fire.
Akin says "butane honey oil labs basically are to extract oil from marijuana. It involves a pressure vessel and sometimes they explode. We've seen a number of these around the county lately." The oil is a very concentrated form of THC – tetrahydrocannabinol – the primary ‘mind-altering' element in marijuana. It goes by many names including butane honey oil, butane hash oil, honey oil and butter.
FOX 11 Investigates has looked in detail at the dangers associated with BHO labs. Firefighters say because butane is involved they are extremely dangerous. When it leaks butane will fill a room. The smallest spark will set off a big explosion.
One was just three weeks ago in the City of Commerce. The explosion was so powerful it blew a house right off it's foundation and left two people seriously burned.
In the Malibu explosion one man was airlifted to County USC Medical Center for treatment of second and third degree burns.
The case has been turned over to the LA County Sheriffs Department for investigation.