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UPDATE: Canyon Country explosion caused by marijuana processing

Exploding THC extraction labs 'fairly common,' detective says

Posted: October 25, 2012 9:43 a.m.
Updated: October 25, 2012 5:01 p.m.

A 29-year-old rain gutter cleaner and accused pot grower was in custody Thursday after his home laboratory exploded Wednesday, injuring two and prompting the evacuation of a Canyon Country apartment building.

Stephen Sebastian Schilling, 5-foot-10 and 145 pounds, was being held on suspicion of manufacturing a controlled substance, a felony, according to the narcotics detective who arrested him.

“It was not a meth lab,” said Detective Scott Schulze of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Bureau. “It was a THC chemical processing lab,” he said Thursday.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the principal psycho-active component of the cannabis plant.

“They use flammable butane to chemically extract the THC,” Schulze said. “Somehow, it hit some ignition switch.

“It’s a very dangerous process.”

Although there was no significant fire as a result of the explosion, the blast sent to the hospital two men identified as tenants of the Scherzinger Lane apartment building. The nature of their injuries was not disclosed.

“It was more of an explosion, a flash-fire explosion,” Schulze said.

Schulze said “multiple pounds of marijuana” were seized in the case, and the investigation was continuing.

He said exploding THC-extraction labs were not uncommon.

“It’s actually fairly common in Southern California,” he said.

Tenants in at least two of the apartments affected in Wednesday’s blast were still displaced late Thursday.

Bail for Schilling was set at $75,000.





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