DEA: Illegal hash oil lab explosion caused East County fire

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EL CAJON, Calif. -- The second hash oil lab explosion caused a fire in San Diego County within a two week period, said authorities.

Officials say a fire that broke out above a used car dealership in El Cajon Thursday night was caused by an illegal hash oil lab.

Firefighters were called about an explosion at a business on El Cajon Boulevard near Intestate 8 around 9 p.m. Thursday night, Heartland Fire Department said. Crews battled flames in a second-story suite and rushed a man with "extensive burns" to the hospital.

A Hazmat team and Drug Enforcement Agency officials were called to investigate, and officials revealed Friday that a "large butane hash oil extraction laboratory" caused the explosion and fire.

"Marijuana, laboratory equipment and approximately a dozen 55-gallon drums containing a volatile solvent were located inside the building," the DEA said. "These labs are extremely dangerous due to the potential for fire and explosions because flammable solvents are used to extract THC from marijuana plant material."

Extraction labs take THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and use it to create a highly concentrated oil that's often used in vaporizers and edible products. The process commonly uses butane, a gas that can linger and release explosive gas clouds in addition to posing a significant fire risk, officials explained.

The DEA said the lab was in violation of federal and state laws.

The bottom suite houses a used car dealership Khalil Suradi and family own.

"It's surprises me because would assume people would be considerate about their neighbors and the safety of others," said Suradi.

Suradi's business was not damaged in the fire.

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