Vansplosion May Have Been Rolling Hash Lab

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
The suspected hash van, engulfed in flame at Ninth and I streets. Photo courtesy Ryan Freitas

The suspected hash van, engulfed in flame at Ninth and I streets. Photo courtesy Ryan Freitas

Firefighters clean up after extinguishing the van. Photos by Bryn Robertson

Firefighters clean up after extinguishing the van. Photos by Bryn Robertson

Bryn Robertson  & Kevin L. Hoover

Arcata Eye

ARCATA – Sunday afternoon was a bad time to be a large vehicle in Arcata – in unrelated incidents, one burned up while the other was badly burgled at virtually the same moment.

Ninth and I streets: ‘The butane’s gonna explode!’

A three-door Chevy van belonging to a Florida native on her way through Humboldt County burnt to complete disuse downtown on Sunday, May 26, leaving smoke in the air and a carcass of a car to be hauled away.

Little displaced pooches frolic amid sooty possessions salvaged from the van.

Little displaced pooches frolic amid sooty possessions salvaged from the van.

The first indication of something potentially amiss was van occupants spilling out of the soon-to-be sooty husk, yelling “Fire! Fire! The butane’s gonna explode!”

As the van people ran off, their prediction came immediately true. Soon the vehicle was engulfed in flame.

Away only briefly from her vehicle, owner Heather Long said she and a group of friends had already walked across town to Safeway when the van caught fire. “We had tortillas and spinach in the van,” said Long. “We were going to get lunch meat.”

Upon hearing of a fire on Ninth and I streets from eyewitnesses in town, Long and her friends quickened their pace back to the van to arrive and find it entirely engulfed in flames, along with all of their belongings inside.

“Now we have lunchmeat and no tortillas,” said Long, who stood tearfully watching the Fire Department pump jets of water into her ruined van.

Visiting from Sunnyvale for the Grand Kinetic Championship, Josh and Celina Hoskins parked their Volkswagen alongside Long’s Chevy before it caught fire. “We saw the smoke,” said Celina. “I thought, ‘Holy shit, that’s right where we parked.’”

Lunchmeat-equipped by tortilla-deprived Heather Long with the scorched remains of her possessions.

Lunchmeat-equipped but tortilla-deprived Heather Long with the scorched remains of her possessions.

Josh Hoskins, with a stroke of adrenaline, leaped alongside the burning van to move their car down the street and out of danger, which suffered only superficial damages.

Also crippled in the fire was local Rolfer Angela Hart’s Infiniti convertible, parked alongside the burning van for the duration of the fire.  Hart, a Trinidad resident, believed her car would transport her home but would require repair.

Arcata Police and Fire Department are working to uncover further details regarding the cause and origin of the fire, as well as anyone else possibly involved in the incident. Sgt. Ron Sligh reported several other individuals inside of the van at the onset of the fire, but they took off before APD arrived.

“No one stuck around to talk to us,” said Sligh.

Fire Captain Jon Busher, one of the first in his department on the scene, said the nature of vehicle fires makes them particularly challenging to investigate. “They are small, they build quickly, and any evidence is damaged by the fire,” said Busher.

After Busher and his team rolled up their hoses and swept the sidewalk free of broken glass, Long grabbed a few salvageable belongings from the cinders and turned her back on the van as it was hauled away. She remained confused as to the origin of the fire.

15-2

Getting the soot smell out is going to take a while.

That confusion had ebbed a little bit by Wednesday, when Arcata Fire reported preliminary results of its investigation. “There is suspicion that they were using the van as a drug lab, to make honey oil,” said Battalion Chief Sean Campbell.

“Honey oil” is a term for concentrated cannabis, or hash oil. It can be extracted from marijuana via a hazardous process that involves the use of butane. While the websites that offer instructions for this method urge that it be done outside, the vansters appear not to have followed the advice.

“There were multiple butane canisters inside the van,” Campbell said. He also noted “signs of flammable liquids and gas,” use of which in an enclosed space the firefighter described as “never good.”

He said Arcata Fire hasn’t interviewed the people who were in the van when the fire broke out, as their identities are unknown. The matter has been turned over to Arcata Police.

No mere window will stop a determined Slithy Tove from busting in and stealing your stuff. Photos courtesy Ted Halstead

No mere window will stop a determined Slithy Tove from busting in and stealing your stuff. Photos courtesy Ted Halstead

AMIC: Another bash-and-rummage

Meanwhile, out at the parking lot of the Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center, still another unwary Marsh visitor learned the hard way not to leave anything of value in his car and visible to passing thieves.

Arcata resident Corey Jung left his Honda Pilot unattended for a half-hour or so in the parking lot. On returning, he found the back window broken and the vehicle severely rummaged.

Jung said his friend had left her purse on the front seat, which may have tempted the burglar to bust in.

Oddly, though, the purse wasn’t taken, even though the rest of the vehicle had been rifled through.

Marsh officials reported three other break-ins in parking lots on the same day.

Marsh officials reported three other break-ins in parking lots in the sanctuary’s on the same day.

Perhaps purse contents weren’t what the culprit was looking for, or maybe they never got to it.

“I’m thinking they got interrupted,” Jung theorized.

He estimates that the damage will cost him $700. “It’s a pain in the butt,” Jung observed.

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14 Responses to “Vansplosion May Have Been Rolling Hash Lab”

  1. So no apology to the fire department men who put their life on the line. No apology to the business owners. No apology to the car they destroyed next to theirs. I'm suppose to be upset and feel sorry that the tortilla's were ruined. Maybe if you had some cheese the firefighters could of had a quesadilla while risking their lives to save your hippy drug van. Should I walk down the street and throw a buck at them to get some bread for their lunch meat? Probably get yelled at by these douche bags for not buying them a new van.

    #69144
  2. I was totally watching the fire from the roof of Marino's. It was crazy.

    #69145
  3. Deb Plantagenet

    Roof of Marino's? Did I miss it being rebuilt?

    #69146
  4. Why has neither Arcata nor Eureka PD not done any type of sting op to catch these freakin tweaker thieves in the act? Seems to me it would be easy enough to put an officer in place but out of sight at some of these locations where there are frequent break ins of vehicles. Leave a vehicle at the scene and wait for the criminals to appear and break in. Something needs to be done. These breakins are really getting out of hand and it seems like no one ever gets caught in the act.

    #69148
  5. What are you talking about? Marino's didn't go anywhere. The paint store burned. If I hop the fence I can still totally get a drink from Michelle or Jen.

    #69149
  6. Glad I don't own a car!

    #69152
  7. Cody Turnbaugh

    I remember watching the band "deep banana blackout" at Tomo, we went outside to smoke and watch that paint go up. Honestly, it was pretty amazing.. truthfully though, to hell with stupidly constructed yucky oil labs. That is just stupid. Butane; Duh. My Goodness…

    #69153
  8. Bigsampson Mallory

    HADOUKEN!

    #69210
  9. Rolling hash lab = bad idea all around

    #69215
  10. [...] It’s been pretty docile so far, except for a broad-daylight shooting in a residential area and the hippy van full of butane-made hash oil that burnt to the ground my first week on the job.  The point is, I’m living the dream. (No one died, no one [...]

    #69272
  11. [...] courtesy of the Lost Coast Outpost. In pot-friendly towns like Arcata, it’s got the streets on fire. Posted in [...]

    #70064

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