Monterey County sheriff's deputies and the North County Fire Protection District responded to a structure fire in Prunedale on Monday afternoon, April 12, after receiving multiple calls.
Before 3:30pm, several neighbors reported a fire and explosion at 16735 Meridian Road near Highway 156.
The fire started after the explosion of a shed about 10-feet-by-10-feet in size. “It was a shed that was basically completely obliterated,” says Jess Mendoza, Division Chief of Training and Operations for North Monterey County Fire Protection District.
The fire jumped to a garage about 20-by-30 feet. Firefighters contained it before it spread to the house and a guest house. Eight firefighters, including the district chief, three engines and a water tender, which carries 2,500 gallons, were on the scene.
One person was in the shed at the time of the explosion and suffered burn injuries to their face and hands, Mendoza says. The person was transported to a local hospital for treatment, and later airlifted to a burn center in Santa Clara County.
Sheriff's deputies say a second person was on the property at the time of the explosion and was not injured, and was in Sheriff's Department custody for questioning on Monday afternoon around 5pm.
Sheriff's Sgt. Jon Luther says preliminary evidence suggests it was an illegal cannabis manufacturing site. “It has the making of a honey oil lab,” Luther says. “It’s where they extract oils from marijuana to make it into wax for consuming.”
The area was closed for investigation on both sides of the road and drivers were turned to alternative routes. “We have crime scene investigators coming to collect evidence and determine the actual cause,” Luther says, noting possible causes include canisters of propane or butane.