Tempe Police investigate possible meth lab - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

PD: Extracting hash oil from marijuana may have caused SUV explosion

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TEMPE, Ariz. -

A Tempe neighborhood was rocked by an explosion inside a sport utility vehicle Wednesday night around 9:45 p.m.

At first, we heard it may have been caused by a meth lab, but now we're learning that's not what caused the blast.

It all started at a QuikTrip gas station next door to an apartment complex near Southern and Priest.  Officers responded to reports of a vehicle fire, which QT employees and citizens had attempted to extinguish.

"Some residents were evacuated as a safety precaution until our Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) squad could assure the vehicle did not contain explosives, which it did not," stated Molly Enright of the Tempe Police Department.

"There was a police officer at the door, so they evacuated us.. had to get all the kids and they put us into a van around the corner and then they told us what happened at the store," said Ivy Jones, an area resident.

All of the contents have been removed from the SUV, which has a blown out rear window.

"Although the investigation is ongoing and this incident may drug related, based on examination of the vehicle, officers have determined there is no indication that this incident involved methamphetamine or a meth lab," added Enright.

According to police, the vehicle's driver has not been found.  Investigators are searching for a white male in his 20s, described as having a medium build, possibly wearing a striped tank top and navy blue shorts.

"Witness report is that after some sort of flash or explosion within this car that was at a gas pump, the person associated with the vehicle was seen throwing contents away from the vehicle into a dumpster and then he subsequently fled the scene," said TPD's Lt. Scott Smith.  "What were able to determine after our response was that he actually drove to the apartment complex.. next door to the QT and fled the area, running southbound, chasing after.. what was reported to us, was a dog."

Smith adds that items related to drug activity were found in the SUV.  "We believe at this point, it was some sort of explosion that occurred.. involving possibly trying to get hash oil out of marijuana... we think this person.. may have been using some sort of accelerant or flame-containing butane and what possibly ignited inside that vehicle were the fumes from that butane.."

No injuries were reported during the incident and police say there is no threat to the community.

Tempe Police will be reviewing surveillance video of the area and ask if anyone witnessed what happened to contact them at (480) 350-8311.

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