Fire investigators said they were the first fatalities from a hash oil explosion in Portland history. At the end of last month, two men died from a large butane blast in a home cannabis concentrate laboratory.

When responders came on the scene, they said they thought it was a natural gas leak. “I’ve never seen one this bad,” Portland police investigator Joe Luiz told Oregon Live.

The explosion resulted in the death of the hash oil extractor Matthew McRann, 42, and Richard Cisler, 68, a housing contractor who was not involved in the manufacturing but was inside McCrann’s house at the time of the blast.

Photographs taken at the scene reveal an enormous amount of butane, many trash bags full of 300 ml canisters, some of which look to have exploded in the blast. In addition, investigators found large metal pipes filled with cannabis “stems and other discarded parts of the marijuana plant,” according to Oregon Live. A large cooking pot can also be seen in the photographs.

Investigators calculate the total cost of the set-up to be roughly $20,000. What some people might do with that kind of money is to invest in a legit, licensed laboratory with proper, safe equipment. What McCrann did was to make a giant amateur blasting site that in effect turned his house into an unstable time bomb.

If 99.9% of the blame for this foolish, criminally negligent, and pointlessly fatal hash oil operation goes to its operator, then you can reserve 0.01% for the hash oil regulations in the area. While penalties against amateur BHO extractors are severe, the region still has a problem when it comes to a realistic supply and demand relationship.

As pointed out by investigator Joe Luiz in an interview given to KPTV, there are too few state-licensed cannabis extraction facilities in Oregon to supply the growing demand for concentrates. As long as that’s the case, it will be easy for amateurs like McCrann to see a quick dollar in whipping up a big batch of wax in an unsafe setting. If, on the other hand, the state’s dabbing fans had easy access to regulated, high-quality hash, they might have no cause to turn to the black market.

Photo via Flickr user G.e.o.r.g.e.