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Butane caused apartment blast

Suspects may be charged with manufacturing drugs
By: Melody Stone, Journal staff writer
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Investigators determined a process called “honey oil extraction” caused the Auburn Court Apartment explosion last Tuesday. Lt. Jeffrey Ausnow, Placer sheriff’s public information officer, said one of the residents was Ty Denton, 26. Denton was present during the explosion and injured along with a guest, Shea Hunt, 35, who was also injured. Ausnow reported there was also a 17-year-old-male present at the time of the explosion, he was also injured. The Placer County Special Investigations Unit is investigating the case. The special investigations unit is a multi-agency drug task force under the supervision of the California Department of Justice, Ausnow said. Jackie Long is a Department of Justice special agent supervisor with the Amador County Combined Narcotic Enforcement Team and was called into help investigate the Auburn Court Apartment explosion, which took place in North Auburn. “(Honey oil is) the street term for THC that’s extracted off the marijuana plant using butane as a solvent,” Long said. “If it wasn’t for the fire system in the complex we would have a bigger situation.” Long said the suspects were using butane to extract the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from the cannabis plant. THC is the hallucinogenic property found within the cannabis plant. Butane is very explosive and Long said even a static spark could ignite the blaze. “The shower curtains were melted,” Long said. “It burned a lot of stuff inside of that bathroom. (The blast) lifted part of the roof up, it was that forceful.” Long said any survivors of the fire would have suffered pretty bad third-degree burns on their skin and burns in their lungs. “These fires are very impressive. When they go off they leave a lot of damage behind,” Long said. “It’s a very hot and very painful fire for them to survive.” None of the suspects have been arrested because they are still recovering from their injuries but Long is confident they will be charged with the full weight of the crime. "I'm very confident they are filing manufacturing charges,” Long said. "We've had more of these blow up than we have meth labs (explode)." In California a manufacturing charge is prosecuted and sentences are the same as for manufacturing methamphetamines, Long said.