An explosion that destroyed a New York City home and killed a firefighter has drawn attention to marijuana-making methods that can be lethal, the Associated Press reports. New York fire battalion chief Michael Fahy died responding to the blast Tuesday in a home converted into an indoor marijuana farm. They’re investigating whether the alleged growers tampered with gas lines and mishandled other materials in ways that caused the explosion. Indoor marijuana farmers can create fire hazards by using natural gas, propane or butane to power carbon dioxide generators that make the plants grow. In recent years, similar methods used to produce more potent marijuana extracts have resulted in explosions and other catastrophes.
Indoor gas use is a standard way to grow marijuana, says Michael O’Hare, a professor at the University of California in Berkeley who is an expert in cannabis cultivationd, adding that, “If you raise the CO2 level, it’ll grow faster.” Some growers rely on propane or butane gas because using large amounts of metered gas from a utility could draw the attention of authorities, who might question why so much fuel is needed for a house of a certain size, O’Hare said. In those conditions, a gas leak could spell disaster. An hour before the New York explosion, dozens of nearby residents said they could smell gas wafting over the neighborhood.