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January 7, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Powerful Mount Baker explosion blamed on hash oil

A blast damaged an entrance and knocked a building off its foundation  in the Mount Baker neighborhood of Seattle on Tuesday. (Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times)

A blast damaged an entrance and knocked a building off its foundation in the Mount Baker neighborhood of Seattle on Tuesday. (Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times)

The blast that knocked a building six inches off its foundation today in the Mount Baker neighborhood is one of several recent explosions or fires suspected to be caused by the manufacture of a marijuana-based product.

Seattle police and firefighters are on scene of the blast, which occurred inside a vacant apartment at 2802 S. McClellan St. No one was hurt and the building has been evacuated.

Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore blamed the blast on the process used to create hash oil.

Police tape surrounds a building that was damaged in a blast this afternoon. (Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times)

Police tape surrounds a building that was damaged in a blast this afternoon. (Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times)

The most popular way of making hash oil — a high-potency extract of marijuana — now involves the use of flammable solvents, particularly butane, which can be purchased in hardware stores.

A substance, believed to be butane, was being stored in containers in a freezer in the building. The butane apparently leaked from the freezer into the refrigerator below and into the appliance’s electrical system. When the refrigerator kicked on today an explosion occurred, Moore said.

“The butane gas leaked into the bottom of the refrigerator. When the refrigerator kicked on it was enough to ignite the butane gas and it caused an explosion,” Moore said.

Police found “a substantial marijuana grow” inside the apartment, said police spokeswoman Renee Witt.

Seattle police are searching for the man who was last living in the apartment. The man hasn’t been seen since November and owed back rent, said Witt. The man is wanted for investigation of reckless endangerment and for his role in the marijuana growing operation, Witt said. She added that the making of hash oil is a crime because it is so volatile.

Last week, two Kirkland men trying to make hash oil from marijuana caused an explosion that severely damaged two apartments.

A fire that injured seven people and destroyed 10 apartment units in Bellevue in November is believed have been caused by someone making hash oil. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

The force of today’s Mount Baker blast blew out windows, sliding glass doors and cabinets and shifted the building off its foundation, according to the Seattle Fire Department. A flower shop in the front of the building was evacuated after the explosion, according to the fire department.

A structural engineer and a member of Seattle Police Department’s Arson and Bomb Squad will investigate as well. Puget Sound Energy has shut off the gas to the building and Seattle City Light has shut off power to the building.

0 Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: explosion, Mount Baker, Seattle Fire Department

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