UPDATED: Three badly burned in fire and explosion blamed on hash oil extraction

MONROVIA — Three men suffered major injuries early Sunday in a fire initially blamed on a small but powerful butane explosion stemming from the processing of marijuana into concentrated hash oil, authorities said.
The fire was first reported about 5 a.m. at a home in the 200 block of East Walnut Avenue, just west of Canyon Boulevard, Monrovia police Sgt. Don Newton said.
“A call came out of a structure fire with subjects trapped inside the house,” Newton said. Callers reported that one of the people inside the home was on fire.
Witnesses also reported hearing what they described as at least one explosion coming from the burning home, police said.
“The explosion was enough to actually move the ceiling and lift the ceiling itself, and move many of the contents of the room around,” Monrovia Fire Department Chief Christopher Donovan said.
Officers and firefighters arrived to find three badly injured burn victims, initially described as men in their 20s, the sergeant said. Two of them had escaped the home themselves prior to the arrival of police or fire, while the third got out just after officials arrived at the scene.
All three men were taken to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, where they were listed in critical condition, Donovan said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, the chief said, however it was initially believed to have been caused by the explosion of one of several spraypaint-sized cans of butane the men were using in a process to extract a concentrated form of hash known as “honey oil” from marijuana.
All three burn victims were in a back bedroom of the home, where the butane was, when it ignited, Donovan added.
Two of the injured men were believed to be residents of the home, Newton said, while the third was believed to be a visitor.
A man and woman who rent space in the home but were unrelated to the burn victims escaped the home without injury, Donovan said. They were inside a room toward the front of the home when the explosion occurred in the rear.
The amount of marijuana found at the home was not available.
Nearby homes were evacuated for several hours following the fire, however residents were allowed to return about 8 a.m., he added.
Officials from nearby police agencies joined Monrovia police and fire officials in the investigation.

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