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Posted on Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

Officials: Ypsilanti Township house explosion could have been drug-related

By John Counts

The Ypsilanti Township house that exploded Sunday was scheduled to be raided Monday as part of an investigation into a vast marijuana growing operation, police said.

"We never had the chance because the house blew up," said Lt. Michael Shaw of the Michigan State Police.

Ypsilanti Township Fire Marshal Vic Chevrette confirmed Monday afternoon that investigators were trying to determine if butane buildup associated with growing marijuana at the home had anything to do with the explosion.

“That has not been determined yet,” he said. “It could very well be.”

Shaw said evidence found in the house after the explosion leads officials to believe the explosion and subsequent fire could be caused by the butane.

The house was one of 22 locations in Wayne, Oakland, Washtenaw and Jackson Counties where search warrants were set to be executed, according to a release from state police.

Chevrette said Monday morning that a man trying to relight a water heater initiated the blast. Shaw could not confirm if the man, who was seen running from the home in the 1300 block of Gattegno Street, will face criminal charges.

Officials said the man remains in the University of Michigan Burn Unit.

State police continued with the execution of all the other search warrants Monday morning, seizing over 500 marijuana plants, a large quantity of processed marijuana and several weapons, according to state police. Several individuals were also taken into custody.

The raids were the culmination of a seven-month investigation into marijuana trafficking. The locations raided included several private businesses, homes and four warehouses.

Shaw said the operation involved growing and distributing marijuana all throughout southeast Michigan.

Charges will be submitted to the state attorney general's office for authorization. State police and the Western Wayne Narcotics team (WWN) conducted the raids in conjunction with several federal, county and local agencies, according to the release.



Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:44 a.m.

Cops love arresting marijuana users and growers because it "justifies" their existance.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

Schuette's war on a plant continues. Nice waste of time, money and resources.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

You know my old saying: Easy come, Easy go, As long as it's the public's dough.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:28 a.m.

Good thing it was a weed explosion. When it happened, I thought the house was a meth lab.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 1:02 a.m.

Quite a coincidence, given the number of marijuana related butane explosions in the news this year. Given the conditions of production, I'm sure there is an interesting narrative about the chemical safety of the end product.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 11:36 p.m.

And they had a baby in the House? Thank Goodness the child is okay! Wow....

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

Anyone know if it is possible to use a hot water heater as a bong?


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10:02 p.m.

I wonder why my comment about the guy flash-banging himself, which remained posted all day, is now deleted....


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:37 p.m.

Are the police going to say where the raids in Washtenaw county were?


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

If there was a butane buildup the flame or spark could have caused an explosion. Natural gas need not be involved unless the man didn't know how to light the water heater. There wouldn't be a gas build up of that magnitude in any case.

Kitty O'Brien

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 8:54 p.m.

Fox News has a video of the home exploding and the family's dog running from the residence. Any news on the whereabouts of the dog?


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 12:20 a.m.

I am so glad I'm not and wasn't the only one who was concerned about the dog.

Ann English

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 11:26 p.m.

I got the impression that the dog was running home, not away from home, watching the neighbor's video. Then we see people getting interested in the house explosion, walking to it when they previously had a different destination. Cars using the street stopping to investigate. The residents themselves leaving on foot.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:42 p.m.

The Detroit News reported that the man caught the dog right after the video ended.

Christy King

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:40 p.m.

While being an animal lover personally, I am SO glad that the dog is okay, and I, too, wondered how he was doing/their whereabouts. But as a side note? That video was one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen, factoring in only the dog run. I've never seen a dog fly out of somewhere so fast in my life.

Tamara Craft Larson

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

I read on wxyz, he was brought to the humane society. I think someone has claimed him, but don't quote me on that one.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

Let me guess the public officials have determined yet another cause for this explosion?


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10:07 p.m.

And its never ever their fault

Michelle Valasin

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

I think that Ypsilanti Township Fire Marshal Vic Chevrette really needs to stop talking to the press about ongoing investigations until he knows what he is talking about. 3 stories and 3 different causes. Do your job THEN tell us what really happened.

John Counts

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

To be fair to Chevrette, he was not interviewed for the first story. Also, there aren't necessarily three different causes being talked about. Just because officials, including a lieutenant with the Michigan State Police, confirmed butane may have contributed to the explosion does not mean natural gas from the water heater wasn't the cause.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

right? What a joke to speculate about causality before anything concrete is known.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

There is no "butane build up associated with growing marijuana." Plants still release oxygen, not butane. I really think these guys are intentionally misinforming the public to make marijuana seem dangerous. Now, if the homeowners were making BHO inside, then they deserve to lose their house for being so negligent. I'm glad the child (and everyone else) is OK.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:50 p.m.

Wow "devils weed"? Are there really people still living like its the 50s? What a joke. BUTANE IS USED FOR MAKING CONCENTRATES. NOT FOR GROWING. Use dry ice if u need more CO2. Way safer. Also end the ignorance and learn something before flapping ur gums ppl.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

Better call Saul!

Basic Bob

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

another major lawnet bust going after minor crime? please go after heroin dealers. people are dying out there and you are concerned about semi-legal weed.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:29 p.m. you take a tube...put a filter on the end and you stuff it full of "material" that you want to extract a "substance" from. Then you take cans of lighter refill butane, turn them upside down, and empty them into the tube. The solvent effect of the butane extracts the "substance." Then you take the liquid butane that has filtered through and evaporate it. This process usually causes a fair amount of butane to build up if you do it in an enclosed space. No one "burns butane to create CO2." They have natural gas devices for that specific purpose.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

You do realize that because of the intense pressure the butane is under in the can it is a liquid. Thus if you turn it upside down, the pressure will dispense it as a LIQUID not a gas. Since in it's liquid form is it well below that 31F needed for a state change, it BOILS instantly...still it's not enough of a temperature change to evaporate it all and as you add more liquid butane from the can, the temperature shift stabilizes and it remains a liquid for much longer. This liquid filters through your material extracting whatever substances match it's polarity, and the resulting "sludge" is then evaporated by whatever method you choose. Vacuum diffusion is the best, especially if you use a reclaimer to collect and reuse the butane. All of this is perfectly safe if you have lots of relatively expensive chemistry equipment....unfortunately that's not how this is usually done.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

Butane boils at about 31F so it's a gas at room temperature.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

Oh look....I was right.....


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 12:54 a.m.

Billy is a legend in his own mind!


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10:39 p.m.

All the downvote means is you're extra upset that I was right...


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

Talk about the horrors of drugs to Pfizer and others in billion dollar drug industries. Just because the government has deemed their drugs to be legal and allowed them to hold sick people and people in pain hostage to the almighty dollar.....doesn't make them better. It makes them worse. Don't waste scare legal resources on marijuana. Go after real criminals.

Hugh Giariola

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

Cash, brings us back to the point that currently it is ILLEGAL and this alleged grower should face the consequences for endangering his child.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

My understanding is that the legal marijuana is quite expensive also. So the "almighty dollar" applies here, too.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

Well Hugh, if it was LEGAL he could grow it in his backyard. And if it was LEGAL thousands of dollars of our tax money wouldn't have been spent to round up 500 marijuana plants while violent criminal roam free due to "lack of police resources".

Hugh Giariola

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 11:03 a.m.

Cash, that's ok and and I agree with you to a point, but this person was allegedly growing it illegally AND endangering his baby as well. I think he bears some responsibility for his ineptitude.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 12:17 a.m.

Totally agree! I was an ER nurse for years. I constantly had drunks (some considered upright pillars of the community) call me insulting nasty names when I was caring for them. On the other hand, I never had one laid back marijuana user call me a nasty name. Just my experience over 20 years. And no, I don't smoke marijuana.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10:09 p.m.

Thank you, well said, the biggest and most dangerous drug dealers are the legal ones . How many people their drugs have killed is unreal yet they are upstanding citizens


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

"Investigators were trying to determine if butane buildup associated with growing marijuana at the home had anything to do with the explosion." Wow! That's a new spin on the marijuana galaxy of things-that-can-go-wrong. This could have been avoided if the dude were allowed to grow it in his backyard, in the same way that Ypsi Twp permits residents to raise chickens in the backyard. Outdoors is relatively butane-free.

Steven Taylor

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

Actually, the CITY allows chickens, The township does not :)


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:20 p.m.

Amen, Piney. For the folks who cannot afford the outrageous legal drug pain killers, this could be the greatest blessing.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

For growing stronger marijuana, butane can be burned to spike atmospheric carbon dioxide. Increases in psychoactive ingredients of 10 percent or more have been recorded in government-financed studies of marijuana grown indoors in carbon dioxide-rich air. These studies can be easily googled. Your tax dollars at work, as it were, coming and going, to speak.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

So what you're saying is that global warming will result in stronger marijuana?


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

No one burns butane for C02 enrichment.

Usual Suspect

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

I'm not a pot-head, so maybe somebody could explain how butane is related to growing marijuana.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

Thanks, Homeland, for the great link.

Homeland Conspiracy

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

How Hash Oil Is Blowing Up Across the U.S. — Literally

Homeland Conspiracy

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 11:42 a.m.

BHO BHO refers to a process of preparing butane honey oil, a type of marijuana extract made by passing liquid butane through a tube containing finely ground marijuana.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

I am a legal "pot head" I don't find the term derogatory. people are going to judge and have their opinions no matter what you do. I do however have a job, have my own place and have a successful relationship. I think most people who do smoke don't stress what you call them. I will say being an everyday smoker for 10+years I had no idea what butane would be used for in growing until I read some of these helpful posts. my caregiver grows all his plants veganically. So you don't need to be a pot head to know that sort of stuff, you just need to know how to use google. :)


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 3:16 a.m.

@Paul, from what the article says, I'd guess they were collecting evidence to support the search warrants they executed today.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 3:15 a.m.

@Lenscap, great catch! I missed my typo...should have been "bulb." Thank you...


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:16 a.m.

@ Solitude: I know what a "spare" is, but what's a "blub?"

Steven Taylor

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 1:27 a.m.

So now we have to worry about offending pot heads..What would you rather be called. Tokers, Midnight Smokers. Reefer Madmen.. Perhaps Dopers? Naww.. I think Pothead is probably pretty tame. To quote the internet Third Coast, "Lighten Up Francis"


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 11:44 p.m.

Being offended by the term "pot-head" is political correctness gone amok. In a few years it will probably be referred to as "the p-word".


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10:18 p.m.

I rather be thought of a pothead then a jock Forget what the police claim, they got no proof, just making guesses. I like to know what all the police have been doing around the house in the last few weeks


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10 p.m.

Not everyone who spokes pot is a "pot-head," just as not everyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic. I don't smoke it, but when I did I wasn't a pot-head. I did know "pot-heads," however, and the distinction was fairly obvious. I believe the negative connotation associated with "pot-head" still exists....I believe the commonly held perception/definition of "pot-head" is still someone who does little else other than smoke pot job, no constructive contribution to society, etc. Regardless, I'm not sure that even those who smoke constantly would necessarily know what relationship butane has to marijuana, as even the most dedicated pot-consumers are usually not producers or distributors. A few less stereotypes, a bit more education.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:39 p.m.

I'm 61 years old and while I don't use pot I did in my misspent youth. I have known many pot-heads over the course of my life and none of them in my world would have seen the term as derogatory. Maybe times have changed.

Hugh Giariola

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 8:58 p.m.

Not sure why all of the vote downs as I have the same question Usual Suspect about the butane. BTW, if you're a pothead, own it and grow some skin. It's not really a negative in this age of MJ reform.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

I don't know why you have to make silly assumptions (Do you have to be bowler to know what a "spare" is? Do you have to be chef to know what "braise" means?), but for the sake of education, I'll tell you that a quick Google search revealed that butane is used by some as a solvent to process marijuana into hash. Apparently, this guy wasn't the brightest blub in the grow lamp.

Usual Suspect

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

Thanks. I firmly believe I will lose no sleep over your decision.

Third Coast

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

If you hadn't thrown in the derogatory term "pothead" I may have answered your question.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

"Chevrette said Monday morning that a man trying to relight a water heater initialed the blast" He may have initiated it, but initialing a blast is rather impossible.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10:22 p.m.

That makes more sense then growing pot. Your water heater goes out and somebody messed up trying to relight the pilot. Its really awful how the police can say what they please, its how people end up in jail guilty or not. Should be like in Canada where proof has to come out in trail before it gets reported in the press

John of Saline

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

Oh, come on, liekkio. You're just not trying hard enough. If you're good, you can sign your whole name on a blast.

John Counts

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

This typo has been fixed. Thanks.