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Meticulous search continues for cause of fatal San Francisco house explosion

Investigators continue to search for a cause of deadly Sunset District home explosion
Investigators continue to search for a cause of deadly Sunset District home explosion 03:54

SAN FRANCISCO -- In San Francisco's Sunset District, 22nd Avenue was still closed to car traffic Monday evening and an officer was keeping watch over the scene of a horrific explosion.

Neighbors identified a man in a Facebook photo as the suspect who lived in the home where investigators found an illegal drug lab in the wreckage. 

UPDATE: Manslaughter, drug charges filed in San Francisco Sunset District home explosion; Victim identified

The destructive force and suddenness of the explosion was captured on a neighbor's camera

Police said 53-year-old Darron Price faces felony charges of manslaughter, manufacturing drugs and two counts of child endangerment. 

RELATEDSuspect arrested in deadly explosion at San Francisco home

KPIX 5 captured video of a man who showed up at the scene shortly after the fire and told firefighters he lived at the house. He explained that his wife was disabled and asked if she made it out alive. 

A police source confirmed the victim is the suspect's wife. Her caretaker was badly burned. She was apparently doing laundry and started the dryer, moments before the blast.

A source told KPIX 5 investigators believe Price was making butane hash oil, a highly concentrated and potent cannabis extract. Butane is an odorless, extremely flammable gas used in the process.   

RELATED: 'Hiding in plain sight;' Neighbors take stock of damage from San Francisco drug lab explosion

"The butane lighters, if you think about how they operate, they're designed to ignite immediately," said retired FBI agent Jeff Harp. "They're very volatile, and so if you're using those types of chemicals in an atmosphere or in an area where you have say a dryer that has an ignition source, you got a recipe for disaster." 

Harp said the agency will work with DEA to assist in the case.

A police source added that neighbors told investigators after the fire that they smelled marijuana coming from the property long before the explosion. 

"Obviously, if somebody smelled marijuana, PD's not going to come out and do a report on that, unless it's in an area where there's kids or something like that, because it's legalized," said Harp.  

KPIX reached out to the state's Department of Cannabis Control regarding any licenses at the property. 

In a statement, the agency said: 

"The Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) can confirm there are no licensed cannabis operations in the neighborhood where the explosion took place, but as an investigation is ongoing, we cannot confirm at this time that the early reports of a narcotics lab are related to cannabis extraction. That said, illegal cannabis manufacturing can be extremely dangerous to the people operating them as well as to those in surrounding areas. The DCC encourages people to report unlicensed cannabis operations online at All complaints can be made anonymously." 

"My guess is this person was experimenting around with something they thought was going to be either okay or worthwhile," said Harp. "You can't have a substantial production operation at your house."

Supervisor Joel Engardio has set up a private town hall this Wednesday for residents impacted by the explosion. He will have the fire chief and police caption present and the city assessor will talk about possible property tax relief for homes affected. 

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