Mad River Union
McKINLEYVILLE – Cyndi Bainbridge-Wainwright and her husband Bob Wainwright were sitting in their living room Monday, Dec. 26, when all hell broke loose at a clandestine hash lab next door to their home on Ocean Drive in McKinleyville.
“It started as a low rumble. We thought at first it was an earthquake,” said Bainbridge-Wainright. “Then we heard the big boom.”
The explosion blew out several windows, including one in its frame, buckled the walls and burned at least one of the occupants of the triplex in the 1800 block of Ocean Drive.
Bainbridge-Wainright said they went to investigate and immediately called 911 after the explosion, which occurred at about 3:30 p.m. “We could see the smoke billowing and heard people screaming,” she said.
One of the fellows who was screaming appeared to be badly burned. “His skin was bright red” and the back of the T-shirt he was wearing at the time of the blast was missing, with only the collar and sleeves intact, she said.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office described the burned man as a 24-year-old male. Another person drove him away in a white pickup truck.
Law enforcement officers contacted local hospitals, but as of late last week were unable to find the man.
When deputies arrived at the scene, they evacuated the nearby buildings until the cause of the explosion could be determined.
Firefighters with the Arcata Fire District responded, put out the blaze and determined that the explosion was caused by a butane honey oil lab.
The stench of marijuana quickly spread over the coast-side neighborhood, with a resident reporting the smell as far away as half a mile.
The case is being investigated by the Sheriff’s Office and Humboldt County Drug Enforcement Unit.
As of late last week, the burned out hash lab was boarded up, with plywood covering its windows. In the common area near the lab’s front door, a pile of neatly stacked shattered glass sat on a bench, with a cardboard box full of glass nearby.
Butane, which is highly explosive, is used as a solvent to extract THC from cannabis.