Highly combustible butane canisters used to produce hash oil are likely what caused Windsor's most recent house explosion, police say.
"The explosion that took place is not related to any type of natural gas combustion," Sgt. Brett Corey said Thursday.
"There definitely is evidence of a narcotics operation in the home and that's what we're focused on right now."
The explosion and fire happened around 9: 20 p.m. Tuesday in the basement of a home at 3230 Conservation Dr. Four people were inside at the time, but no one was injured. The blast caused about $40,000 in damage.
The Ontario Fire Marshal's Office, Union Gas and Windsor police arson investigators launched a probe.
While going through the debris, they found equipment often associated with hash oil production in the basement.
On Wednesday, the Windsor police drugs and guns unit executed a search warrant. They found more than 1,400 grams of loose marijuana and 12 grams of cannabis resin, or hash oil.
Police said the combined value of the marijuana and resin is more than $7,500.
Officers also found a large number of empty and full butane canisters which are commonly used in making resin, along with other production equipment such as piping.
No one has been charged, but the investigation continues.
Hash oil is made by putting marijuana into a container such as a pipe, which is sealed with a cap on one end and a filter on the other. Butane is forced into the container, which then forces the oily resin out of the marijuana.
The resin is more highly concentrated than marijuana bud. In Windsor, it's also harder to come by. "It's something we don't see in this area quite often," said Corey. "It's not common."
He said it seems those responsible were making the resin in the basement, next to the furnace. "It appears the butane canisters that were located in the house may have contributed to the cause of the fire," said Corey. "The butane may have been sparked by a pilot light on the furnace. It's speculation right now. That's what we're investigating."
Given how combustible the butane is, Corey said the operation put the neighbourhood at risk.
"It's an extremely dangerous situation, not only for the residents of that house, but also the residents in the neighbourhood," he said. "This is why we're trying to emphasize the caution."
Corey said people should try to be aware of what's going on in their neighbourhoods and immediately report any suspicious activity to police.
Tuesday's explosion was the third in two weeks. On March 31, a blast rocked a house in the 1700 block of Pillette Road. It blew out a brick wall and caused a fire.
On March 24, an explosion at 1070 Esdras Ave. killed Ronald Nelson, 75. It levelled the house and caused a large fire that spread to nearby homes.
The causes of those explosions are still under investigation.
April 08, 2011
The Windsor Star