Illegal butane marijuana lab explodes near Knott’s Berry Farm; 4 injured, including 2 firefighters

Firefighters walk past a burned-out building
An illegal makeshift lab to process marijuana using butane gas exploded on Sunday in Anaheim, authorities said.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

An illegal butane marijuana lab exploded at a commercial building in Anaheim near Knott’s Berry Farm on Sunday, injuring at least four people, including two firefighters.

Police responded to an emergency call at 11:22 a.m. of a structure fire about three blocks east of Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, said Anaheim Police Sgt. Steve Peña.

Orange County firefighters rushed to the scene at 1169 N. Knollwood Circle and worked to extinguish the blaze that quickly engulfed the building, sending high into the air clouds of black smoke which were visible for miles.


Two firefighters battling the fire were injured when the lab exploded and were rushed to the hospital, Pena said. One had second-degree burns on the side of his face, and the other suffered a back injury when the explosion pushed him onto his oxygen tank, Peña said.

Two male suspects were inside the business when the fire started, and one was severely injured and transported to a local hospital, he said. The other suspect, who was not injured, was detained and is cooperating with investigators.

At least one person from another business was transported to the hospital, Pena said. He did not know the extent of their injuries.

It was a “honey butane oil extraction lab, which is an illegal operation,” Peña said. “They’re dealing with chemicals and whatnot, so whatever they were doing inside started the fire.”

By about 2:30 p.m., Peña said firefighters had largely extinguished the fire but some hot spots remained. Authorities can’t go in because it’s “too hot,” he said.

In such makeshift labs, hash oil, also known as honey oil, is commonly extracted from marijuana plants using butane, a colorless, highly flammable gas commonly used as lighter fuel for cooking and camping, authorities said. Vapors from butane can release gas clouds, and a mere spark of static electricity can set off a fiery explosion.