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Police investigate explosion at Anchorage apartment involving hash oil

Anchorage police said Wednesday that investigators are looking into an explosion caused by a "hash oil operation."

Police dispatchers received reports of the explosion at the apartment building in the 4500 block of Folker Street at 10:34 a.m. Saturday, the police department said in a statement.

"Upon arrival, officers found the first floor windows and door blown out from a corner apartment," the statement says. "The side of the building was bowing out and knocked off its foundation."

Glass and debris were scattered throughout the area, but there were no signs of an active fire, police said.

The tenant of the apartment was taken to a local hospital for medical treatment, and told officers there that the residence had been used to make butane hash oil, "and it exploded," police said.

Hash oil is a type of marijuana extract. Police said that despite the changes to marijuana laws statewide, the homemade hash oil "laboratory" was illegal.

"It is not safe. The oil is made with butane and marijuana in a highly pressurized tube and poses a public safety threat," police said.

The Anchorage Assembly passed an ordinance more than two years ago prohibiting the marijuana extraction process using butane or other compressed flammable gases, or through the use of solvents other than vegetable glycerin. That is, unless the manufacturer has a valid license to do so.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for the apartment but initially did not enter it due to the severity of the damage caused by the explosion. They were able to do so on Monday, when a front-end loader was used to support the unstable wall, police said.

"Investigators seized numerous marijuana plants and other drug paraphernalia," police said.

No one else was injured, no arrests have been made and the investigation continues.

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