Refrigerator explodes in marijuana-distilling operation

Refrigerator explodes in marijuana-distilling operation

COOS BAY — An attempt to distill the active ingredient from marijuana caused a refrigerator-demolishing explosion at a home on Monday, fire investigators in Coos County have concluded.

The Charleston Fire Department got a report at about 1:05 p.m. of a loud explosion on Jerome Road, Coos County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Pat Downing wrote in a news release. Fire crews found that a refrigerator at the home had exploded, shattering a window, dislodging cupboard doors and drawers, and scattering food around the kitchen. Firefighters called for the help of the sheriff's department and the state fire marshal's office to figure out what happened.

Investigators determined that one of four people living at the house had been extracting THC from marijuana with a method that used butane gas, Downing said. It appears that butane gas had built up in the home and when the freezer portion of the refrigerator turned on, a small spark ignited the butane gas, which caused the explosion. No fire erupted, but the blast blew the door off the refrigerator and through a wall in the home, Downing said.

Photos from the scene show a broken window, dangling light fixture and damage throughout the kitchen.

An 18-year-old woman at the home was resting on a couch and was uninjured in the explosion, Downing's release said. Investigators suspect that the force of the blast and flying debris could have seriously injured anyone standing in the kitchen or living room.

Deputies are working to determine if any of the home's residents had a valid medical marijuana card, Downing reported. He said the case will be referred to Coos County prosecutors for review of possible drug charges.

— Anita Burke

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