What was first thought to be a meth-lab explosion at the Heritage Inn in the Midway District on the morning of January 30 is now being reported as a different sort of drug-related disaster that left three people badly burned.
NBC News San Diego reported that the Heritage Inn rents out certain hotel rooms on a weekly basis and that room 227 was one of those. Several tenants told NBC News that they suspected illegal activity at room 227, as people were continually visiting the room at all hours of the day and night.
"The explosion was caused by ignited butane gas to make a certain type of marijuana oil,” SDPD Capt. Brian Goldberg told NBC News on January 31. “The man inside the hotel room lit a cigarette while he was dealing with flammable substance.”
The explosion was so powerful that several walls were blown out. Haz-mat crews and the DEA were at the Heritage Inn all afternoon conducting investigations, while Channel Way was blocked off in both directions by police officers.
A neighbor said "it felt like an earthquake," while another walking by with her dog heard screams and noticed white smoke pouring out of the motel.
The three victims had burns "all over their bodies," said San Diego fire-department spokesperson Maurice Luque. "The male victim has life-threatening injuries, while the woman has severe burns."
Julie Jordan, who was staying in a nearby room, told the Huffington Post, “People were screaming and running, and a man was burned from head to toe. His skin was falling off."