MERLIN, Ore. – *UPDATE* Investigators believe an illegal butane honey oil explosion was the cause of an early morning fire in the Merlin area last Friday.
Fire crews were called to the 100-block of Cedar Valley Drive around 6:30 am on February 14th after reports of multiple explosions and vehicles fleeing the scene.
When crews arrived, about half of the house was on fire.
No one was inside the home or injured.
It took firefighters about an hour to knock down the flames, the fire destroying a garage and part of the home.
First responders said they believed the fire was ‘suspicious.’
Now, authorities say it was likely caused by a butane honey oil explosion.
“If done improperly without proper ventilation and all the codes and regulations that go into doing it right… all it takes is one spark and you’ve got this potential for an explosion,” said Division Chief Austin Prince, Rural Metro Fire.
Prince says the illegal manufacturing operations appear to be a growing trend.
A few months ago, he says the agency responded to 4 butane honey oil explosions in one week.
Butane honey oil is a concentrated form of marijuana that is highly potent in THC.
A suspicious house fire is under investigation in Josephine County.
Rural-Metro Fire said the fire broke out at about 6:30 a.m. Friday along Cedar Valley Drive in the Merlin area.
Neighbors reportedly heard explosions and saw people running from the scene before firefighters arrived.
According to Rural-Metro, half of the house was already in flames by the time they arrived. At the time, they didn’t know if anyone was inside, so they went into “search and rescue mode,” firefighters said.
Eventually, other fire agencies arrived at the scene to help. They were able to knock down the fire in about an hour.
It was determined that nobody was inside the home and nobody was injured.
The fire didn’t totally destroy the home and some of the objects inside were considered salvageable.
The fire is considered suspicious and law enforcement is involved in the investigation.
Firefighters told NBC5 News the house was a rental property and the people living there have not been located. The homeowner is cooperating with investigators.