Clayton Smith accused in hash-oil explosion that lifted roof off house, burned child
Way back in 2009, we posted about the risk of explosion when making butane hash oil indoors. But some people continue to do so, with sometimes disastrous results.
Example: an explosion and fire at a residence in the small town of Carr, Colorado that reportedly lifted the roof off the house and injured two men, Clayton Smith and Levi Allen, as well as a seven-year-old child who was present at the time. Get details and see both a video and Smith's arrest affidavit below.
Arguably the highest profile hash-oil-related explosion this year to date took place at a hotel in San Diego, not far from Sea World. As reported by our William Breathes on the Toke of the Town blog, the blast did about $600,000 worth of damage and seriously injured the couple in question.
An animated video produced after the incident does a pretty efficient job of describing the hash-oil-making procedure and how it can go wrong. The entire clip is below, but here's a quick graphic primer.
The process begins with finely ground marijuana being placed into a special pipe....
...after which butane is blasted through it.
The butane evaporates from the oil....
...when a container holding it is placed in hot water:
However, an explosion can occur when a spark from, say, a lit cigarette ignites the fumes.
Because of this possibility, butane hash oil is typically manufactured outside, so that the butane can dissipate harmlessly. Inside, it can collect and linger -- and when ignition occurs, the results can be ugly.
Which brings us to the incident in Carr. Here's how the police report describes what happened.
Continue for more about the hash-oil explosion, including a video and the complete arrest affidavit.
On August 11, the report notes that deputies with the Weld County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a home on the 61600 block of County Road 19.5 in Carr -- a wide open area captured in this interactive graphic. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
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At the address, deputies found Smith and Allen being treated by fire/rescue personnel. Both were said to have suffered severe injuries. In addition, a small boy was present, and while his hair and eyebrows had been singed off and the skin had been burned off one heel, he was talkative.
The boy announced that Smith and Allen were making "oil that you use to smoke the weed."
Inside the home, deputies found a small marijuana grow with twelve plants, as well as some glass vials "commonly used for cocaine storage/transportation," the report states. In addition, the report's author noted that all the windows in the place had been blown out and the explosion "appeared to have lifted the roof up off the house" -- although a photo of the structure seen below suggests that it settled back into place afterward.
A deputy subsequently quizzed the home's owner, Lavonne Bessler. She wasn't home at the time of the big bang, but she pointed out that she's a licensed medical marijuana caregiver. She said Smith and Allen help her with the extraction of hemp oil, but she couldn't understand why they hadn't been doing so outside.
Initially, Smith wasn't able to speak to investigators due to his injuries, but Allen told them the explosion happened when he opened a door by a swamp cooler. As for the boy, he was getting a glass of water in the kitchen, where hemp was being cooked, when the blast ripped through the house.
Did simply opening the door create a spark? Or was there a spark from the stove? Either is possible, although investigators found evidence of cigarette smoking on the site.
A couple of days later, the boy sat down with a forensic investigator. He was able to go into some detail about the process of making "ash oil, or maybe hash oil." In addition, he quoted Bessler's reaction upon seeing the catastrophe: "What's going on, what happened?," "The house got on fire because they did it wrong" and "What the fuck?"
Bessler likely repeated this last phrase upon learning that she'd been charged with one count of manufacturing a controlled substance. But the lion's share of accusations are aimed at Smith and Allen. The warrants naming them list fourth-degree arson, manufacturing a marijuana concentrate and child abuse in conjunction with manufacturing a controlled substance -- felonies all.
Look below to see the animated video depicting the aforementioned incident in San Diego, followed by the arrest affidavit for Smith; it's redacted to remove the name of the boy, among other things.
More from our Marijuana archive circa December 2009: "Hash oil home explosion not a surprise to one expert."
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