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Los Angeles County sees rash of fires, explosions from hash oil labs

L.A. County officials say there has been a rash of fires and explosions at illegal labs where a 'hash oil' is being made.
April 9, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Los Angeles County officials say there has been a rash of fires and explosions at illegal labs where a marijuana byproduct called "hash oil" is being made.

A hash oil manufacturing lab found Wednesday morning at a Huntington Park duplex was the third one found in 12 hours by a special Los Angeles County taskforce called L.A. IMPACT.

The lab was discovered after a fire broke out at about 5:30 a.m. When officers arrived, two men were heading out the back. They told police there was nothing wrong and then took off. But inside, officers found equipment and material to make hash oil.

"The officer, not knowing, went back and discovered glassware filled with marijuana, cans of butane and plastic trash bags full of marijuana and a lot of fire damage to the rear of this structure," said Detective Frank Lyga with L.A. IMPACT.

Hash oil seems to be turning into a big business. On Tuesday night, a suspected hash oil lab exploded in Malibu, seriously burning a man.

"One individual was manufacturing concentrated cannabis using butane. We discovered somewhere between 600-800 empty butane canisters," said Lyga. "The operation was going on a long time."

In Glendale, officers on a probation check busted up a hash oil lab Tuesday night. It's the second lab taken down in Glendale in the past two weeks.

L.A. IMPACT say in the past four to five months, more and more hash oil labs have popped up in Los Angeles County.

Glendale Police Chief Rob Castro says one of the reasons is that people smoke the oil in electronic cigarettes.

"People are using this hash honey oil now in these electric cigarettes to be able to smoke the ingredients from the marijuana extractions at a very potent rate. So this caused now a new market and a new manufacturing process in these residential areas," said Castro.

Lyga says his team deals with two to three of these types of fires and explosions each week.

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