Suspect, juvenile taken to burn center after honey oil lab explosion in apartment
A man suspected of operating a butane honey oil lab is facing multiple felony charges after an explosion lifted the roof off his Grass Valley apartment Monday night.
Kyle Patche, 31, sustained “significant” but not life-threatening burns and remained Tuesday at a regional burn center, said Grass Valley Police Capt. Steve Johnson. Upon release, Patche will be charged with illegal manufacturing of a controlled substance, two counts of felony child endangerment causing injury, causing a fire that caused injury or death and causing a fire of an inhabited structure, Johnson said.
A 12-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy also were in the residence at the time of the explosion, Johnson said. The boy had relatively minor injuries and was treated and released at the scene, and the girl was transported to a Sacramento-area trauma center, treated and released later that night. Both children are in the care of Child Protective Services, he said.
Police were called to the scene of the apartment at 368 Sutton Way at 8:13 p.m. Monday in response to numerous reports of a large explosion, Johnson said.
“The overpressure (pressure caused by a shock wave) from the explosion itself was significant,” he said. “It lifted the roof of the complex itself, in that area, off the supporting walls and then it settled right back down. Some of the exterior walls were displaced and the interior walls as well, the doors were blown off the hinges and displaced.”
Having the roof blow off the second-floor apartment proved to be fortunate, Johnson said.
“It gave the pressure somewhere to go,” he said, adding that probably helped minimize the injuries sustained by the occupants of the apartment.
According to Johnson, Grass Valley Police detectives and investigators from the Grass Valley and Nevada County Consolidated Fire departments worked through the night to determine the cause of the explosion.
“We believe he was involved in producing concentrated cannabis and he had an active butane honey oil lab in the apartment,” Johnson said, adding that extraction tubes and butane canisters were located at the scene.
“Butane, obviously, is an extremely volatile substance,” he said. “If there is butane either leaking or somehow released, any ignition source could be as small as a light switch being turned on. It could even be static electricity from walking across carpet. It doesn’t need much, especially in a small confined space like an apartment.”
The apartment sustained some charring to the walls but no significant fire damage from what Johnson called a “very dynamic” flash explosion.
Officers evacuated the adjacent apartments Monday night, and all three apartments were red-tagged until they could be inspected. By mid-morning Tuesday, the gas and power had been turned back on for the building and the red tags were lifted on the adjacent apartments, Johnson said.
“The involved apartment will need significant repairs,” he said.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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