LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Four people have been charged in connection to the house fire near Northwest 25th Street and Lindy Avenue where flames several feet high were found shooting from the home Saturday evening.
Once inside the home, firefighters immediately found the makings of a drug lab and contacted police. After serving a search warrant, the Special Operations Unit found more than 2 pounds of marijuana and butane, which they believe was being used as part of a butane hash lab.
Officers say the four suspects seen here were caught about a block from the fire, trying to drive away. Rocky Stamper, Tiffany Reed, Jonathan Hoahwah and Josie Yarbrough were arrested that night.
Police say this is the first time they have found a working butane hash lab in Lawton. Butane hash oil is a substance with a high concentration of THC, which is a chemical used to get high. However, officers have been finding butane hash oil out on the streets over the last six months.
Lawton Police Detective Nancy Lombardo says she believes they could see a lot more of these labs in the community.
"With the legalization of marijuana in some of our nearby states, people are building an immunity and a tolerance to marijuana and they are looking for that next drug that will get them a higher high," Det. Lombardo said.
Detective Lombardo says the process of making butane hash oil is very dangerous.
"This is comparable to a methamphetamine lab because it is highly flammable and explosive, but it is far more an easier process," she explained.
Detective Lombardo says they blast the liquid butane through the marijuana and heat it, which results in a sticky yellow substance with a high concentration of THC.
"To smoke marijuana, the THC level is anywhere from about 17 to 25 percent. When you extract the THC through the blasting process, it produces the THC level anywhere from 70 to 90 percent," she explained.
Detective Lombardo says when a firefighter walks into a burning building, they are often going in blind not knowing what they will find, which puts them in grave danger.
"So, when you start going in and you are seeing stuff that could possibly be explosive, it makes it dangerous for everybody around. We have got children living in this neighborhood. We have got children out here today. So safety is definitely a concern for everybody," Detective Lombardo said.
The Lawton Fire Marshal's Office says there were no utilities turned on to the house at the time of the fire, but they believe some sort of heat source from the lab was a contributing factor in the fire.
Rocky Stamper and Tiffany Reed were arrested for first-degree arson because state law essentially states that if you are manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a controlled dangerous substance that leads to the burning of any building, it is considered arson.