TEWKSBURY (CBS) – Investigators say a “marijuana THC extraction process using butane gas” was the source of an explosion at a home in Tewksbury late Tuesday night.

Three people were seriously hurt in the blast which blew out the windows of the home on Astle Street around 9:30 p.m.

Victim transported after house explosion in Tewksbury. (Photo courtesy Robert Mills/Lowell Sun)

Victim transported after house explosion in Tewksbury. (Photo courtesy Robert Mills/Lowell Sun)

“The buildup of butane vapors within the apartment came in contact with an ignition source and an explosion ensued,” Tewksbury Fire Chief Michael Hazel said in a statement Wednesday.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports

“The process was being performed on and around an electric stove within the apartment.”

Hazel told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens there were two dozen butane canisters in the home.

Tewksbury Police Chief Timothy Sheehan told WBZ-TV the three victims – an 18-year old woman and two young men, ages 20 and 21 – were trying to extract the chemical THC from marijuana.

“(There’s) a very high concentration of marijuana in THC and a very little quantity of pasty product that is produced by this extraction process,” the chief said.

The process can be found online in video demonstrations on YouTube.

“Across the nation, in other locations, it seems to be something that is a synthetic drug. The trend is that people are working in that direction,” Sheehan said.

The victims, who have not been identified, were all airlifted to Boston hospitals with burns and injuries to their heads, hands, and faces.

Police are looking for two people who ran off around the time of the explosion.

The state fire marshal and the State Police bomb squad were called in to help with the probe.

“It’s an uncomfortable feeling and it’s definitely concerning for the residents and neighboring residents for their safety and also for the firefighters that have to respond to that location,” Hazel said.

The chief estimated damage at $200,000.

Sources told WBZ-TV this incident may be the first time there’s been an explosion during the extraction process in Massachusetts.


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