Los Angeles officials have launched a criminal investigation into the origins of a warehouse fire that resulted in a powerful explosion on Saturday evening, injuring 12 firefighters. The site was operated by Smoke Tokes, a warehouse distributor of butane and other products commonly used to create hash oil, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The blaze was reported on Saturday afternoon in the city’s Toy District. During the firefighters’ response, an explosion shook the building and damaged nearby structures and a parked fire truck. Firefighters put out a mayday call and fled to safety. Some emerged from the building on fire with “obvious damage and burns,” said Capt. Erik Scott, spokesperson for the Los Angeles Fire Department. Ultimately, the blaze raged for one hour and 42 minutes before it was subdued by the combined effort of more than 230 city firefighters.
Luckily, nobody was killed during the inferno, however, 12 firefighters were admitted to the hospital — most were released by Monday, although four remained in serious but stable conditions.
Some initial reports claimed that the explosive fire was tied to illicit butane hash oil extraction, although officials have not shared any evidence of that claim and the actual source of the fire has not yet been confirmed.
Anti-cannabis activists were nonetheless quick to blame the incident on the cannabis industry, while industry representatives pointed the finger at city officials for having not taken steps to properly license local manufacturers of cannabis concentrates.
“The tragic events of Saturday’s explosion are a direct consequence of cannabis prohibitionist policies combined with lax enforcement against illegal retail and manufacturing operators. The only plausible reason for a vape supply company in downtown L.A. to be wholesaling butane canisters is to serve the needs of illegal extractors.” — Wesley Hein, an executive at Mammoth Distribution, via Leafly
In 2016, a business with the familiar name SmokeTokes caught fire in the same LA neighborhood and required a response of more than 160 firefighters; it was not immediately clear whether the two businesses are linked. No firefighters were injured during the 2016 blaze.
Get daily cannabis business news updates. Subscribe