You are probably familiar with the recent story about a man who suffered serious burns in an explosion on February 21st in Pittsfield that was the accidental result of the illicit extraction of cannabis products from Marijuana. Pittsfield Fire Chief Thomas Sammons, Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn, and State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey all had something to say about it.

The incident was investigated by multiple agencies...

According to a news release on the Department of Fire Services page at Mass.gov, the incident that took place in a mill building on Keeler Street in Pittsfield was investigated jointly by the Pittsfield Fire Department, Pittsfield Police Department, and the State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office. Also assisting in the investigation were the Lenox Fire Department, Lenox Police Department, Pittsfield building inspectors, and Hazmat technicians, as well as the State Police Bomb Squad and other State Police units.

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(Above: The explosion occurred in a mill building on Keeler St. in Pittsfield)

The man was very badly burned...

The investigation revealed that the victim, whose name was not released, suffered serious burns when he attempted to extract hash oil from marijuana. A large number of marijuana plants and products, as well as other evidence, were also recovered from the scene. The victim was initially sent to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield was but later transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

 

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The incident prompted this warning from Pittsfield Fire Chief Tom Sammons:

Incidents like this are exactly why extraction processes using flammable gases and liquids are subject to safety regulations. These are hazardous materials. Even storing them improperly carries a risk. Their untrained, unlicensed misuse can lead to property damage, serious injury, or death.

 

State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey says a small spark is all it takes...

Cannabis extraction methods that use propane, butane, and similar substances without proper safety precautions are illegal because they’re extremely dangerous. The gases used in these processes are highly flammable. If they accumulate in an enclosed area, the smallest spark can cause a devastating explosion.

 

According to the news release, for one reason or another, neither the explosion nor the victim’s injuries were reported to public safety agencies when they occurred. It wasn't unit roughly two days later (Feb. 23rd) that the State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit was first made aware of the incident by a report through the Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System. The system requires that hospitals notify the State Fire Marshal’s office of burn injuries that extend over 5% or more of a victim’s body. It's used as an investigative tool to identify arsonists and as a public health tool to identify burn injury trends.

 

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