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Hash lab explodes and sparks fire in Ventura apartment building

A hashish lab explosion set off a fire in a midtown Ventura apartment building Friday afternoon, but the four occupants managed to escape without injury, authorities said.

Responding just after 2 p.m. to a report of an explosion in a large apartment complex in the 300 block of Hurst Avenue, firefighters quickly put out the blaze in the kitchen of a second-story unit, Ventura Fire Department Battalion Chief Douglas Miser said.

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Firefighters determined that the blast was caused by the ignition of butane that was being used to extract hashish oil from marijuana.

No major injuries were reported but paramedics assisted one person who complained of difficulty breathing, authorities said.

Only one unit was damaged, and the loss was estimated at less than $10,000, Miser said.

Ventura police detectives remained at the scene Friday night "to identify all persons responsible for the crime," Cmdr. Terry Medina said.

Indoor marijuana farmers can create potential fire hazards by using natural gas, propane or butane to power carbon dioxide generators that make the plants grow. In recent years across the country, similar methods used to produce more potent marijuana extracts have resulted in explosions and other catastrophes.

In marijuana production-related accidents, more than 30 people were injured last year in Colorado from butane explosions involving hash oil — a concentrated form of marijuana extracted from the plant's leaves and flowers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Twitter: @LATDoug

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