WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) – Investigators in Westminster believe a garage fire started as a result of hash oil extraction and they had to wait to get into the structure due to high chemical levels.
The fire in the 4800 block of West 73rd Avenue began at about 8:15 p.m. on Monday.
Westminster firefighters responded to the 911 call placed by residents of the home. When they arrived, they found light smoke in the house and fire in the garage.
“When these hash oil extractions are created the level of chemicals is significant, and our fire department deemed it was not safe for officers to enter without protective equipment,” Cheri Spottke with Westminster Police said.
Four people in the residence self-evacuated. Two were treated on scene for smoke inhalation issues.
The fire was declared under control within 25 minutes and out in 40.
On Tuesday it was announced that two people were arrested in connection with the fire. Oinander Kanwar, 28, is charged with marijuana processing and possession of a controlled substance. Ashton Blanch, 25, is charged with fourth-degree arson, marijuana processing and possession of a controlled substance.
“Due to new legislation passed last year it made it illegal to possess butane and other products that you manufacture hash oil with,” Spottke said. “That’s how we are able to make arrests.”
Police told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger the two suspects moved to Colorado from out of state because of legalized marijuana.
There were more than 30 hash related explosions and fires last year in Colorado. One blast tied to hash production destroyed a home in South Denver late last year.
“Hash explosions, enormous grows inside of residential neighborhoods, and truly responding to the community outcry and the issues that the community is having has been a tremendous drain on the resources in the law enforcement,” Cmdr. Todd Reeves with the North Metro Drug Task Force said.
The house in Westminster has now been labeled uninhabitable.