A man and woman were in custody today in connection with a honey oil lab that sparked a fire inside a Cathedral City apartment last week.
Devin Dean Robertson-Goering, 23, and Jennifer Alexandra Santos, 24, were arrested on suspicion of providing a place for manufacture of an illegal drug and maintaining a hash oil lab at an apartment at 32710 Aurora Vista Road, Cathedral City Police Cmdr. Paul Herrera said.
Cathedral City firefighters responded to the scene at 9:15 p.m. last Thursday, where the apartment was found fully engulfed. A senior citizen living next door to the apartment was briefly displaced, but uninjured, according to Cathedral City Fire Battalion Chief Robert Allison.
Nearby residents were evacuated and fire crews had the blaze contained by around 10:15 p.m. The ensuing investigation into the fire led authorities to believe that it may have a ``suspicious origin,'' possibly stemming from a ``clandestine drug-lab operation at the location,'' Herrera said.
Allison said the cause of the fire was likely caused by an accidental ignition that sparked in the kitchen or dining room area, where Cathedral City firefighters found numerous canisters of butane gas, which is used to extract hash from cannabis plants.
The fire preceded the discovery of an illegal honey oil lab that caused an explosion at a Wildomar home Wednesday morning, which left the suspect allegedly behind the lab's operation with third-degree burns over half his body. Braken Blucher, 30, of Anza, remains hospitalized in a medically induced
coma, according to sheriff's deputies. The fire also spread to a residence next door, displacing a family of three.
The Riverside County District Attorney's Office recently made illegal honey oil labs the focus of a public safety campaign, which included a series of public awareness videos and a news conference featuring a couple that suffered severe burns in a honey oil lab fire.
Selina Cervantes suffered second and third-degree burns on over 97 percent of her body after a fire sparked in a Palm Springs motel room, where her boyfriend Alex Gonzales was attempting to extract butane honey oil. Cervantes was initially not expected to survive and Gonzales also suffered second and third degree burns.
``People need to understand that the butane honey oil extraction process takes lives -- it hurts people forever,'' District Attorney Mike Hestrin said. ``We want to put an end to the manufacture of butane honey oil.'' The news conference came one day prior to the Wildomar fire.
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