UPDATE: Police Say House Fire on Belmont Avenue Caused by Resident Attempting to Make Hash Oil

Video courtesy of Long Beach Post reader Philip Boyles.

UPDATE  |  Arson investigators believe a house fire on Belmont Avenue Wednesday afternoon was caused by a resident attempting to make Butane Honey Oil (BHO), the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) confirmed today.

At approximately 3:00PM Wedneday, LBPD officers responded to the 200 block of Belmont Avenue to assist the Long Beach Fire Department and Arson investigators after a drug lab was discovered.

According to the LBPD, neighbors had reported hearing a loud explosion, followed by fire and smoke.  The fire was reported to the Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) at approximately 2:42PM, and the first engine arrived at the location at 2:46PM. It took approximately 30 LBFD firefighters to extinguish the fire in about 15 minutes, according to Jake Heflin of the LBFD.

When arson investigators arrived, they discovered the resident was attempting to make BHO, and requested the assistance of the LBPD's Drug Investigations Section.  The Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Apprehension Crime Taskforce’s (LA IMPACT) lab team also responded to the location to assist.

Although no one was inside the home at the time of the explosion, there were two cats inside that did not survive.

According to the LBPD, investigators located items consistent with the manufacturing of BHO, which is made when tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is extracted from marijuana plants. A witness at the scene told the Post he saw officers removing "a couple pot plants and a bunch of mason jars of weed" from the residence.

BHO, which is also known as hash oil, wax, shatter, crumble, dabs or budder, is consumed by methods such as smoking, ingestion, or vaporization.  Users prefer BHO due to the high concentration of THC that it contains.  Butane, which is extremely dangerous due to its flammability, and used during the extraction process, was also found.

The suspect has been identified as 57-year-old Mitchell Maclean of Long Beach.  He was booked for manufacturing a controlled substance and animal cruelty, and is being held at the Long Beach City Jail on $75,000 bail pending arraignment.

PREVIOUSLY: Two Cats Killed, No People Injured in Belmont Avenue Fire

4/22/15 5:54PM  |  Two cats were killed in a fire that caused significant damage to a two-story home in Long Beach on Wednesday. The residents, a 57-year-old man and his 60-year-old wife were not home when the fire broke out, according to Jake Heflin of the Long Beach Fire Department.

Bystanders reported hearing what sounded like explosions coming from inside the house.

Firefighters who were sent to 250 Belmont Avenue at 2:42PM were able to keep the flames from spreading to a neighboring home, said Heflin. The first engine arrived on scene at around 2:46PM, and it took approximately 30 firefighters about 15 minutes to extinguish the blaze, he said.

The first floor of the home suffered “a significant amount” of damage, Heflin said.

The two displaced residents were issued a $100 SAVE card, which is a Mastercard gift card supplied by the California Fire Foundation to aide victims of catastrophic loss.

City News Service contributed to this report.

[Editor's note: This article originally erroneously stated that two dogs were killed in the fire; the Long Beach Fire Department has confirmed it was two cats. The error has been corrected.]



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