UPDATE w/PHOTOS: Building Explosion in Walnut Creek – Multiple Injuries

October 31, 2014 11:45 am · 83 comments



As we first reported, Contra Costa County firefighters responded to a two-alarm explosion and structure fire at an apartment complex in a residential area of Walnut Creek this morning.

Police said the fire broke out in the 1500 block of Sunnyvale Avenue.

The fire was reported at about 10 a.m.

Fire officials said the explosion and fire has caused multiple injuries.

The explosion blew the roof off the apartment complex. Fire officials said six ambulances and one medical helicopter initially responded to the scene.

One person was transported to the hospital by ground, one was transported by helicopter and one person is still unaccounted for.

The buildings around the explosion are being searched for victims.

Firefighters haven’t been able to search the unit where the explosion occurred due to the structural instability of the building.

Stay tuned for updates.

Thanks to Matt for the top photo and Justin for the bottom one.

More photos from ConFire (below):




UPDATE: Contra Costa Fire says Investigators say the cause of today’s explosion on Sunnyvale Ave. in Walnut Creek was a Butane Hash Oil drug lab.

Two people are currently in critical condition.

report October 31, 2014 at 11:52 AM

by CCTimes, it was a hash lab

Kalifornia Native October 31, 2014 at 11:53 AM

The southbound exit on 680 at the truck scales is all snarled up. Many first responder vehicles everywhere.

r October 31, 2014 at 11:55 AM

Good photos!

Really?? October 31, 2014 at 12:01 PM

I’d guess meth lab way more then a hash lab.

JET October 31, 2014 at 12:02 PM

This same thing happened in the early 2000’s back when I had an apartment at Park Regency (other side of 680 from this place). Someone had left the gas on inside a vacant unit and one day it blew! Threw the refrigerator across the parking lot, fortunately nobody was killed but the people who lived above the unit were seriously injured when their floor collapsed and they fell 1 or 2 stories below…..

JET October 31, 2014 at 12:05 PM
Justin October 31, 2014 at 12:08 PM

My guess would be a gas explosion. Apartment wouldn’t be great for a meth lab – close quartered smells…you’d be found out fast.

My bet was someone left a stove leaking or something similar.

J. October 31, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Pippi Longstocking lives on Sunnyvale Avenue.

Mark October 31, 2014 at 12:13 PM

More like a meth lab. People need to be more aware on how dangerous it is to actually cook up meth.

Pamela October 31, 2014 at 12:13 PM

That long shot is the exact view I had from the 4th floor. At one point the flames were higher than the tree. Heard it and shook my building on Oak Road, across the freeway.

Me October 31, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Maybe that was the noise that woke me this morning…

CereBellum October 31, 2014 at 12:16 PM

#4 – why do you believe a meth lab in lieu of reported hash oil one?

Lori October 31, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Wow that’s terribly hope everyone survives.

Anon October 31, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Lol @ hash lab, no way anyone making hash could cause that big of an explosion. That had to be a methlab, which raises the question how many more are in the area?

Hash Lab October 31, 2014 at 12:36 PM

If you do a Google search, you can see lots of photos and other incidents where apartments have blown and burned, and killed by some doper running a Marijuana hash oil extraction lab.

They rent an apartment and then do their illicit activity. Sadly, they often destroy the building, injure innocent people, and render the place unlivable for all surrounding residents.

I am not sure I feel totally sorry for the “dopes” who blew themselves up, although no one should be maimed and burned. It’s not like it’s an accident. They should know the risks to themselves..and of course they endanger everyone else.

eye know October 31, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Sorry – it is not hash

Anne Moss October 31, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Would someone not smell something?

Vandy October 31, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Modern Hash labs are dangerous and explosive. This isn’t your hippy uncles hash from the 60s. Check it out on YouTube…these kids use liquid butane (like pressurized lighter refill butane) as a strong and volatile solvent to create a concentrated pure oil. During the process a large amount of odorless butane must evaporate quickly, creating a huge plume of butane fuel. Hide the process indoors, one spark and BAM.

Anne Moss October 31, 2014 at 1:08 PM

To answer my own question: apparently hash oil “labs” have little to no smell

Expert October 31, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Hey guys, let me just say that I have seen every episode of Breaking Bad, so I can easily say that I am an expert. This was definitely a meth lab. Glad I could come weigh in on this conversation with my expertise.

Hash is harmless October 31, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Of course if hash were legal, it could be produced safely in a controlled environment… Legalize marijuana – think of the children!

Hash is harmless October 31, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Also, I could see the production of BHO (butane hash oil) potentially being dangerous in such an enclosed environment. But that was a pretty massive explosion – not sure the chemistry adds up there!*

*I’m not a chemist

GRX October 31, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Those aren’t apartments.. they are condominiums.

.. the HOA is gonna be pissed off with that resident!

@14 October 31, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Releasing several cubic of butane gas into an enclosed space and lighting a match will cause such an explosion.

They use butane gas to process hash oil.

Pot smokers are generally stupid. They would try and smoke the hash before venting the gas. They get blown up.

Darwin shakes his head.

kax October 31, 2014 at 1:38 PM

they were using butane, a popular component in making hash oil and “wax”…..a tank or two of butane going up would certainly do the trick…..

Rebel October 31, 2014 at 1:53 PM

I heard and felt it at Treat and Oak Grove.

Thought I heard it was a suspected Butane explosion. Stoners, don’t make hash in your house!

m October 31, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Most def hash… not meth.. “bho”-butane honey oil, can easily make an explosion that size

Deadly hash October 31, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Proof, marijuana does kill.

WC resident October 31, 2014 at 2:14 PM

If drugs were legal then only criminals would manufacture the stuff in residential neighborhoods.

Concord Guy October 31, 2014 at 2:21 PM

Meth labs don’t work in close quarters. Smell is distinctive and permeates walls. That is why so many meth labs are out in rural areas.

soccermom2013 October 31, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Someone making wax?

OR October 31, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Could wait for Fire Dept. to release cause.

Karl October 31, 2014 at 2:42 PM

One of the suspects blew his hand off. They ran out of the building in flames with skin peeling off them, blast blew their clothes off. Lady with dog downstairs escaped. That’s what I hate about living in multi unit housing, you never know what dope head is cooking drugs under you.

Sunset park October 31, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Our windows rattled here in Sunset Park at Treat. We were wondering what the source was as inside hanging lamp so we ruled out earthquake. Quite a distance for a shock wave!!

J. October 31, 2014 at 2:55 PM

I guess they won’t be getting their cleaning-deposit back?

Mrbenjangles October 31, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Chances are this was a wax operation if it wasn’t a gas leak explosion. Wax, Butane Honey Oil…..not the same as hash. Though I guess just knowing that makes me look like “one of them.”

Buster October 31, 2014 at 3:01 PM

“I guess they won’t be getting their cleaning-deposit back?”

Rent was due tomorrow.

Richard October 31, 2014 at 3:04 PM

I live by D.V.C. and I heard the explosion loud and clear. Dumbass pot heads.

Dorothy October 31, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Good grief, it was an apartment building! So hope people will recover.

Grumpy Old Man October 31, 2014 at 3:11 PM

Heard original report on the scanner…first responders (CONFIRE) said one of the occupants reported “tanks of butane in the building”. This made no sense until reading all of your comments about making hash. Thanks for the education. Grumpy

Mike Tyson October 31, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Those weed labs really need to be stopped.

Guillermo Elenes October 31, 2014 at 3:20 PM

This is not covered by “Just Cause” unless it turned out to be a P&GE issue.

dottie October 31, 2014 at 3:21 PM

I know of two people that were making hash and blew the house up killing one and leaving the other with burns over 67% of his body. So yes hash oil when washed with propane or however it is made can and will explode. Horrible accident.

BIG TRUCK WILLY October 31, 2014 at 3:28 PM

First rule of make BHO.. DO IT OUTSIDE!!!!! This is what happen when you dont follow Rule number 1.

Nutcreek Frontier October 31, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Medicinal marijuana is all fun and games until you blow your neighbors up. Yep, grow houses are such assets to the neighborhood.

@Buster October 31, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Thanks for the laugh.

TinFoiler October 31, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Do you see anything combustible here????
Epic comments of ignorance. Coconut oil caused that damage? Uh, No!

Craig Cannon October 31, 2014 at 3:55 PM

Authorities down here were taking about Butane Canisters. What Ever that is used for was a concern for further explosions. They just did another Timer Entry about 3:30. I also witnessed The Hazmat Truck from Contra Costa pull up Earlier. Over the Medical Helo to Hospital Channel, Flight Nurse’s Spoke of a Male with 50% Burns to his body. That’s a Tough Lesson, if this was an illegal act. I hope it was not, and innocent people were not also injured. I walked in there for a time, prior to Crime Scene being placed. There was Debris Sticking out of Walls of Units Adjacent, Windows Blown Out of Three Buildings, belongings everywhere. Still Volitile even now. What a Sad Halloween for these folks. Sounds like another fire starting now in Pleasant Hill. Rough Halloween. Crime Lab has Arrived it appears. This is very unusual.

Marissa October 31, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Correction…WAS a Condo,

Some guy October 31, 2014 at 4:20 PM

I overheard someone on site that it was one of the largest meth lab explosions he’s seen.

Cowellian October 31, 2014 at 4:20 PM

I feel sorry for any innocent victims.

J. October 31, 2014 at 4:23 PM

Thanks, Craig.

J October 31, 2014 at 4:32 PM

I work in a Burn Unit. Just to clarify for the person speaking of meth lab vs hash-Butane has kept us in business! Also as a former firefighter I can tell you that hash oil has cause 100 x the burns and explosions of meth labs. VENTILATION PEOPLE, VENTILATION!

Anon October 31, 2014 at 4:33 PM

#42, sorry – Way too much to be natural gas, and especially with natural gas only being around 1/4 psi into the condo.

Michelle October 31, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Is there an official report for the explosion yet? Everyone can speculate, but who was there to actually see the start of the explosion. I take all of these scenarios with much salt.

Grumpy was probably right about what he heard on the scanner. What is the rest…

Elwood October 31, 2014 at 5:11 PM

Man, that hash oil must be some good ****!

The JC October 31, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Butane tanks definitely mentioned on the scanner. Almost certainly making marijuana wax. Primitive way was to soak marijuana in a tub but lately amateur chemists have been shooting or “blasting” compressed butane through long tubes packed with marijuana. The butane vapors are heavy, orderless and colorless and can buildup to have the power of a large bomb. A pilot light or someone walking by the front door with a cigarette is all it takes. Any word on the third person that might be missing??

Sgt.scruffmcgruff October 31, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Get off ur phones or computers and get a life you wanna be sherlock holmes

Not Rocket Science October 31, 2014 at 5:13 PM

With correct ratio of fuel to air and an ignition source you’ll get a large explosion.

Military has fuel air burst weapons.

Captain Cali October 31, 2014 at 5:52 PM

The missing person was the old lady down stairs she was only missing for a few minutes. Some of the other neighbors were taking care of her till the paramedics found her. I do not think there was any other missing victims. I saw them take out 2 badly burned males and the older women seemed ok and her visible injuries were not to bad. They did have a little bit of trouble trying to get her out of her apartment due to all of the debris blocking the door.

Silva October 31, 2014 at 5:58 PM

Ya learn somethin’ new everday! I hope no innocents were hurt. Sorry for the others too. Poor people.

GRX October 31, 2014 at 6:14 PM

He was making “medicine” (Sarcasm intended).

According to a WC building official, a body was discovered and holding in his hand a bottle of that household cleaner “Kaboom”.

Nose Picker October 31, 2014 at 6:20 PM

I thought bad things happening was illegal in Walnut Creek.

Sick Of It October 31, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Hopefully no dreadlocks or Bob Marley posters were damaged in this symptom of a bigger problem.

mamma223 October 31, 2014 at 8:12 PM

Got smoked out in downtown pleasant hill.

ale October 31, 2014 at 8:22 PM

It looks like those are actually condos according to zillow. Can you imagine your neighbor blowing up your condo?

WHAT!!! IN WC??? October 31, 2014 at 8:35 PM

Well well well isn’t that something, don’t see any of those WC residents on here now talking smack about Concord. Tables have turned Muhahahahahahaha! 😉 all in good humor of course!!

Anon October 31, 2014 at 8:42 PM

Years ago, I rented one of the condos in that complex. I lived in the building right across from that explosion. It’s a small complex, when I lived there it was nice. Except for the onsite property manager. She was an ass.

Basel October 31, 2014 at 10:07 PM

Illegal drug manufacturing activity. Ruined condo complex. ICU/Burn Unit care. Looks like everyone from the condo owner/HOA and taxpayers will be on the hook for this activity.

Elwood October 31, 2014 at 10:40 PM

@ the JC #57

According to Channel 2 news they went through the ruins with a cadaver dog and found nothing.

This is another reason to vote NO ON 47 October 31, 2014 at 10:45 PM

Decriminalizing drugs and drug users and the crimes they commit like Prop 47 proposes to do will cause these kinds of illegal drug making operations increase as the demand for drugs will surely go up!!!
Prop 47 wants to take the money that should be locking up these criminals and redirect to their special interest pockets under a guide of promoting drug rehab and safer schools. What a farce.
VOTE NO ON PROP 47!!!! Don’t be fooled!!!

KAD October 31, 2014 at 11:08 PM

This is dreadful. The other Condo owners have no homes now. Were any pets killed or injured as well?

Quicksilver Kid November 1, 2014 at 5:51 AM

Decriminalizing pot in CA would actually cause these type of criminal activities to be less likely to happen if you think about it. It would be legal to buy it so these type of crimes would be less likely to happen.
That’s why they call it decriminalize. Comment #71 is wrong, more people die of alcohol abuse than by pot related incidents by far. Get real. Seems to be working in CO.

Pedro November 1, 2014 at 11:31 AM

I like how many people talk bad about stoners on here like they are the stupidest scum of the earth. While you sit there with your bottle in hand. Those of you closed minded people need a reality check on how much bad stuff happens to those who drink alcohol. This type of explosion would not happen if it was legal and done in an actual lab setting. So yes Quicksilver kid, you are right. Don’t mind these ignorant alcoholics making unproven comments about people who smoke pot. And yes all you folks that think it’s a meth lab because you know so. Lol. Well your wrong. All reports and evidence lead to hash making. Quit feeding us with your ignorance. Thanks.

Walnut all day November 1, 2014 at 2:08 PM

thats terrible, but there are not hash butane labs. Maybe wax which is super dangerouse and my family used to do it outside. There is no science about it: a 10″ pipe (glass or plastic) and butane. Not too scientific. Personally I buy all my wax (what they were making) from the club.im not about to catch on fire and I can afford my habit

Rollo Tomasi November 1, 2014 at 2:45 PM

It’s hilarious that every time these stoners get called out for their pathetic HABIT, their only recourse is to call everybody an alcoholic. Guess what Pedro? I don’t drink either. Using ANY mood altering substance is a sign of a weak mind.

Enjoying Life! November 1, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Rollo, try to have some fun now and then. Even if it’s only once every 10 years…..

Rollo Tomasi November 1, 2014 at 5:17 PM

@ #77:

Thank you for reiterating my point. Only a weak mind believes an altered state of mind is necessary to have fun. I enjoy my life every day without the use of substances.

Dooey2 November 1, 2014 at 8:46 PM

Anon, I lived there too – 24 years ago in unit 41 which is the same one that was in the explosion-on the bottom floor opposite end, I wonder what damage that unit suffered.

Stoned! November 2, 2014 at 6:49 AM

I bet all of those neighbors got stoned! Burning hash oil.. Got damn!

Stacy November 2, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Pippi longstocking lived in that same unit

Stacy November 2, 2014 at 8:23 PM

If you were listening or watching the news, they had a lot of butane canisters in the unit. As for expert you obviously don’t know anything about hash-oil because it is odorless. Maybe you should stop watching breaking bad.

weedman November 5, 2014 at 10:32 AM

If he was using butane he was trying to make wax or shatter. You do NOT use butane to make hash. And if you are learn a lil more about concentrates . And dDO NOT try to make concentrates if you do not have the right equipment and knowledge on how to make it safe especially when using butane and co2. and to who ever sais there is no science to it is so wrong! concentrates are mostly used for treating diseases or ilnesses. I knew someone that had a tumor and started taking cbd oils. Cbd is one of the main ingredients in marijuana so is tchc. CBD is the medicine part THC is what gets you high. After just 2 months the tumor was almost gone! I am not.saying everyome get high or smoke some oils. Im am saying we need it for the people that actually have problems and need it! But dont try making this stuff at home. Get a doctors rec and buy it from the shops not the streets!

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