Three people are behind bars Thursday after a suspected honey oil drug lab in the backyard of a Carmichael home exploded and caused a small blaze.
James Ray Jackson, 32, Sarah Son Dome, 31, and Grame Kali Kannongataa, 35, face drug manufacturing and child endangerment charges. Two children at the house were taken into protective custody.
The three suspects are being held at the Sacramento County Main Jail. Bail has been set at $100,000 for Jackson and Dome. Both have criminal histories in Sacramento County, according to online court records.
Kannongataa was not eligible for bail because of a separate outstanding warrant. He does not have a criminal history in the county, records show.
When firefighters arrived to the 3100 block of Walnut Avenue around 2:30 a.m., they found a 10-by-10 wooden shed on fire in the backyard.
“We were able to knock it down within 15 minutes,” said Capt. Michelle Eidam, spokeswoman for the district.
The key ingredient in the manufacture of hash oil is compressed butane, which comes in canisters about the size of a 16-ounce beer can that drugmakers can easily purchase in bulk.
The flames produced several explosions inside the shed from aerosol cans, Eidam said. The fire also caused a power line to go down. Crews couldn’t determine what started the blaze.
“These kinds of labs are extremely volatile,” said Deputy Tony Turnbull, sheriff’s spokesman. “The last portion of the process to get the honey oil is to try to evaporate the butane. During that time, it’s the most flammable.”
The incident Thursday morning brings to 17 the number of honey oil lab cases investigated by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department this year.
At two of Northern California’s major burn treatment centers – UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California – injuries from butane hash oil explosions account for 8 percent to 10 percent of severe burn cases, according to figures obtained earlier this year.
Butane hash oil, a highly concentrated form of cannabis, is illegal to manufacture but is legal to sell under California’s medical marijuana law, meaning dispensaries must get their supply from illicit operations, according to law enforcement officials. The substance is sold in different forms to smoke and also used to make cookies and candies.
The lucrative market is helping to drive hash oil production, while the wide availability of online videos and inexpensive supplies is compounding the number of tragic fires, according to law enforcement and medical professionals.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill in August that made the manufacture of hash oil and methamphetamine in residential neighborhoods an aggravated felony. Previously, heavier penalties existed only if the operation was in a public area.
“Even if you’re on private property the danger is still there,” said the law’s author, state Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, in an interview. “Most labs are on private property, not public property. You’re really putting lives at risk.”
The new rules will take effect in January.