Flames tore through an Imperial Beach house Monday night, June 23. The fire started in the kitchen of the home at 914 Fern Avenue shortly after 10:00 p.m., quickly spread to the living room and carport, severely melting fiberglass on the body of a Lincoln Town Car limousine.
Neighbors not only saw the fire, they heard it, too.
"My husband and I were watching TV and heard a bunch of booms,” said Amanda Howe, who lives next door to the house. “When I looked out, I see a guy and girl running and screaming from the house."
Howe’s husband said, “When the sheriff got here it looked like they [the couple] were trying not to be seen, so I told the sheriff they needed to talk to them.”
Another neighbor who lives across the street and didn’t want to be identified said, "It was a series of small explosions...then the electrical lines caught fire and that’s when we decided to move our car and dogs."
Some firefighters said they received minor electrical shocks when they tried to enter the home; there was no electrical panel to access, so an investigation into the fire was delayed as officials waited for SDG&E to shut off power and for the sheriff department’s bomb-arson unit to arrive. Fire crews from San Diego, Coronado, and Chula Vista arrived to help.
Chula Vista battalion chief David Lacosta reported that two people were taken to UC San Diego Medical Center with minor burns and smoke inhalation. Investigators were looking into the cause of the fire, and Imperial Beach fire officials toured the house Tuesday morning.
Despite messages left with the Imperial Beach Fire Department and San Diego sheriff’s office to find out more information about the fire's cause, those calls weren’t returned.
CBS 8 reported that a firefighter said "some kind of oil" was found in the house.
UPDATE: 6/26, 4:35 p.m.
In an interview Thursday afternoon, June 26, Imperial Beach public safety director and fire chief Tom Clark provided more information on the fire: “There was evidence of butane canisters at the scene. We can’t determine if that was the cause of the explosion but the manufacturing of [marijuana] hash oil has become the norm for San Diego County and people need to realize it is very dangerous. The whole process is very dangerous; it can cause a flash fire if there's any ignition source anywhere near it. Butane is more volatile than gasoline fumes. It is being done in apartments and small rental homes. People are doing this with their kids around. It not only endangers the people making it but it also puts the lives of other residents and neighbors at risk.”