International Cannabis Business Conference

Pot Lab Explosion Rocks the Bronx

The house at 300 W. 234 St. in the Bronx, after a gas leak led to an explosion that killed a fire chief

I awoke this morning to a loud thud that sounded like an explosion or perhaps a car crash. It was 7:30, and quickly police sirens blared and TV helicopters whirred overhead. 

The news was bad. A house about a half-mile from where I live had exploded and a fire department chief died in the blast. Eighteen others—nine more firefighters, six police officers and three Con Ed workers—were hurt.

The cause of the explosion is still unclear. Neighbors smelled gas escaping from the house and called 911. The first-responders arrived at 6:30, clearing people from the surrounding homes and investigating the leak. While many were in the house at 300 W. 234 St at the corner of Tibbett Ave, in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, the buildng suddenly blew up.

The story made the national news. Local reporters learned that marijuana was being processed in the house. The New York Post said there was what "appeared to be a homemade drug laboratory inside a dark room" and described the building as a "marijuana grow house." The Daily News wrote, "The blast scattered pot plants along the block outside the home."

According to new Police Commissioner James O'Neill, the building "was already under an investigation as a marijuana grow house before the explosion."

But what they didn't, and still don't understand, is what most likely caused the blast.

In California and Colorado, home explosions have become fairly common. These happen when novices try to make hash oil products out of marijuana leaves, known as trim. The process involves using butane, which is extremely flammable. BHO (butane honey oil) should not be manufactured in a home at all and certainly not one adjacent to others. Though it has yet to be reported, this may have been either the main cause or a contributing cause of the explosion. The problem is, New York police have little experience with this type of explosion. One TV report suggested that propane or fertilizer may have been contributing factors as well.

Ultimately, they'll figure out what happened. No matter how you look at it, this is a stain on the reputation of marijuana users everywhere. Syerly, this never would have happned if marijuana was legal. But it isn't in New York (yet), and those responsible (one suspect has been apprehended) should receive the harshest punishment. They will pay dearly for the loss of Chief Michael Fahy's life.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.