Nevada County man accused of causing explosion that burned homes in court |

Nevada County man accused of causing explosion that burned homes in court

Charles Douglas Earl III
Submitted photo |

A Nevada County man accused in August of destroying a neighbor’s home when his alleged butane honey oil lab exploded was arrested this week for the first time, authorities said.

Charles Douglas Earl III, 36, faces charges of recklessly causing a fire to an inhabited structure, manufacturing butane honey oil, cultivating marijuana and possession of a controlled substance, court records show.

Earl appeared Monday for his arraignment in Nevada County Superior Court, where he was formally told which charges he faces by Judge Candace Heidelberger. His next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 8, District Attorney Cliff Newell said.

Authorities arrested Earl in court. He made his bond that day, jail records show.

“That was the first time he’s been booked on this,” Sheriff’s Lt. Bill Smethers said.

According to authorities, an Oak Drive butane honey lab explosion on Aug. 1 in south Nevada County led to the damage or destruction of the garage where it began, as well as a home and outbuilding on the same property. The fire spread, destroying a neighbor’s home and damaging another.

Deputies found 25 suspected marijuana plants, a pound of marijuana, 1,000 canisters of butane and seven extraction tubes at the scene, Smethers said at the time.

Earl was burned and flown to the hospital that day, authorities said.

“We learned about the extent of what happened for the first time in court yesterday, as my client was immediately life-flighted to a burn center,” said attorney Heather Burke, who represents Earl, in a Tuesday email. “While I can’t comment on the details of the case, every effort will be made to make this tragic situation right again.”

Newell, whose office is prosecuting Earl, said the passage of Proposition 64 could affect the case.

Prop 64 legalized recreational marijuana for adults at least 21 years old. It affects several aspects of law, including cultivation and criminal justice.

Earl currently faces a felony marijuana cultivation charge. Prop 64 makes certain cultivation charges misdemeanors only.

“There are components of Prop 64 that allow cultivating to be charged as a felony,” Newell said. “At this point it’s charged as a felony.”

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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