SUMMIT COUNTY - Two people were severely burned early Sunday morning after apparently causing an explosion while making hashish, according to the Summit County Sheriff's Office. The people involved were reportedly operating an approved medical marijuana grow operation.
Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Tracy LeClair said sheriff's deputies and members of Red, White and Blue Fire Department were dispatched to an area just outside Breckenridge in response to a house fire at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Responders saw bloody footprints in the snow, and windows, window frames, insulation and other debris scattered around the house. According to the press release, a fresh marijuana odor and an unidentified chemical odor was reported by responders. Deputies tested the area's air quality to determine if it was safe to proceed, and a man at the residence - the roommate who drove the injured individuals to the hospital - said there was a medical marijuana grow operation inside.
After getting a search warrant, deputies discovered several medical marijuana registry cards, numerous marijuana plants of varying sizes and four empty cases of butane fuel canisters.
According to the press release, the man said he was not in the room when the explosion took place, but he was in the home. He said he thought the explosion happened because one of his roommates was trying to make hashish through a process using butane, which boils at room temperature. He said the individual had made hash several times in the past and usually did it in the garage. This time it was done inside.
"Deputies were not able to speak to the two parties, so we don't know exactly how they were doing it," LeClair said.
Online sources describe the butane extraction method for making hash oil. At www.Erowid.org, a warning states: "The process described here can be very dangerous because it involves flammable gasses. The technique must be done outside and away from any source of spark or flame. There are reports of people smoking while using butane (to fill lighters, etc.) and getting badly burned. Releasing flammable gases indoors could result in serious injury or death. See also www.CannabisCulture.com's warning page about hash-oil extractions."
Red White and Blue Fire Department fire marshal Jay Nelson said the butane being used to extract the THC from the marijuana should never have been used inside the home.-
"When butane is used indoors, severe injury or death may result," Nelson said.-
Both injured individuals were transported to a Denver-area hospital from Summit County for medical treatment - they had severe burns from the fire. LeClair said their health status was unknown.
"It was bad enough for them to be transferred," she said.
The identities and genders of the injured individuals were not released, with police citing medical confidentiality due to the medical marijuana designation.