Police detectives arrested one person Thursday after a drug lab exploded, sparking a fire and damaging homes in a north Modesto neighborhood, according to the Stanislaus Regional Fire Investigation Unit.
Investigators determined the fire was caused by the explosion of a butane hash oil laboratory, commonly known as a honey oil lab, at the home in the 2300 block of Whitcomb Way, just west of Sisk Road and a few blocks south of Chrysler Elementary School.
The drug lab was inside a shed in the home’s back yard, police reported. Inside the home, investigators found numerous marijuana plants, a large amount of cannabis edible gummies and the hash oil used to make cannabis edibles.
Michael Desruissea 35, of Modesto, was arrested on suspicion of arson and several drug-related charges. Investigators on Friday were still looking for Desruissea’s girlfriend, Kanisha Brown, 27, who is wanted in connection with the manufacturing of drugs and the sale of drugs, according to a Modesto Police Department news release.
The incident was first reported shortly after 12:30 p.m. Thursday as a fire at the Whitcomb Way home. Callers reporting the fire to 911 dispatchers said they heard explosions coming from this same home and saw two people escaping the home.
Firefighters from the Modesto Fire Department arrived and found flames had engulfed a shed in the home’s back yard, according to police. The fire had spread to a nearby tree, the home and a home next door.
The firefighters got the blaze under control. No injuries were reported. The explosion and fire destroyed a shed and damaged two homes, according to the Stanislaus Regional Fire Investigation Unit.
The firefighters discovered the lab explosion in the shed started the fire, so Modesto police investigators were called to the burned home.
The investigators obtained a search warrant and found inside the home more than 100 pounds of marijuana, 300 edible gummies containing THC with the label of Black Llama Extract, over 1,000 doses of concentrated THC (hash oil), and a very elaborate THC extraction lab, police said.
The oil — a form of purified marijuana — is extracted from the plants. The finished product is used in vape pens and marijuana edibles.
Investigators later identified Desruissea and his girlfriend as suspects in the hash oil manufacturing and the operation of the lab, police said. Desruissea turned himself in to police.
Modesto police investigators warned that purchasing these cannabis edibles off the black market is dangerous, since there is no purity standard. They said these black market edibles can contain dangerous amounts of chemical solvents not safe for consumption.
The investigators also urged parents to double-check children’s candy, since these products are packaged in candy form and their labels could be appealing to children, according to the news release.
Officials ask anyone with any information about this investigation to call the Modesto Police Department Major Crimes Unit at 209-572-9500.