HIGHGROVE (CNS) – A strip mall in Highgrove erupted in flames Thursday, Sept. 17 after a possible illegal drug manufacturing lab triggered a fire, but no injuries were reported.
The blaze started about 10:50 a.m. in the 300 block of West La Cadena Drive, near Center Street, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
The agency said 15 engine crews from both Riverside and San Bernardino counties were sent to the location and encountered a blaze raging in a unit, extending to two adjacent ones. There were initial reports the fire was in a residential building, but that turned out not to be the case.
Crews fully contained the flames by 11:45 a.m.
No one was inside the portion of the structure that caught fire, officials said.
A battalion chief at the scene identified apparent remnants of a butane honey oil lab where the fire broke out. However, there was no word on exactly what sparked it. An investigation was underway.
Southern California Edison and SoCal Gas Co. technicians shut off utilities at the location.
Honey oil, also known as “wax” or “hash,” is a liquefied marijuana derivative. Drug lab operators use butane stoves to extract tincture from cannabis plants that can be mixed with anything and bottled.
Numerous explosions and fires have occurred throughout the Inland Empire over the last decade as a result of home-based honey oil manufacturing. The practice has become so rampant and potentially destructive that the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office in 2017 released a series of public service announcements, warning of the dangers and consequences of making honey oil.
The series can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fSCMCwmlQw.