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2 critically burned in marijuana process explosion at motel

Hotel explosion
Two people were critically burned Wednesday in an explosion in an Ocean Beach area motel room that was being used to extract hashish oil from marijuana, San Diego officials said.

The 20-year-old woman and 21-year-old man were using butane as a heat source in the process, when the man lighted a cigarette, causing the explosion, officials said.

Windows were blown out of several rooms in the three-story Heritage Inn motel. Walls collapsed. A man staying in an adjacent room was injured by flying debris.

"It looked like a war zone up there," said Maurice Luque, spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Flames shot up the walls and moved across the ceiling. It took 45 firefighters half an hour to get the fire under control.

San Diego police, firefighters and officers from the Narcotics Task Force responded to the 11:15 a.m. explosion as residents were evacuated. Witnesses said the man was on fire from head to toe.

Fumes from the butane apparently were ignited when the man lighted the cigarette. Burns suffered by the two are "potentially life-threatening," Luque said.

The incident is being investigated by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Two people were critically burned in a San Diego area motel room after an explosion that was allegedly caused by a marijuana extraction process involving butane. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

 
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