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Popularity of Butane Hash Oil Alarms East Bay Fire Investigator

PITTSBURG (KCBS) - A growing trend among marijuana users of using highly flammable butane to create hash oil has firefighters in Contra Costa County on edge about potentially explosive fires that can lead to serious injuries.

Since 2011 when Contra Costa County firefighters first became aware of the crude, volatile process used to extract the main active ingredient from marijuana to create butane hash oil, also known as butane honey oil, there have been eight fires, said fire investigator Vic Massenkoff.

"Almost every person that's been involved in a butane hash oil fire or explosion has been airlifted to a burn unit," he said.

East Bay Firefighter Investigator Alarmed By Popularity of Butane Hash Oil

Honey hash oil typically comes from packing pot into an open PVC pipe with a screen on the other end, then injecting butane as a solvent for the tetrahydrocannabinol.

"They're taking their shake, basically what's left over from the good part of the marijuana, and they're processing it using butane," Massenkoff said.

"It comes out a liquid, but starts to vaporize immediately."

And even the how-to videos that have proliferated on YouTube acknowledge just how easy it is to accidentally ignite butane, often advising smokers not to light up anywhere nearby.

Massenkoff said the results in Contra Costa County have been nothing short of spectacular.

"We've had the roofs lift off of homes. We've had houses blown off their foundations," he said.

Making honey oil is a felony charged under the same section as operating a meth lab.

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