Lee Haumea Sermur, 31, was suspected of extracting THC from marijuana plants when an explosion occurred in a Capistrano Beach home November 5, authorities said

Orange County Sheriff’s Department officials believe the garage where a Capo Beach explosion occurred was being used as a THC extraction lab. One man, the suspect in the blast, was injured. Photo courtesy of OSCD
Orange County Sheriff’s Department officials believe the garage where a Capo Beach explosion occurred was being used as a THC extraction lab. One man, the suspect in the blast, was injured. Photo courtesy of OSCD

By Andrea Papagianis

A man suspected of running a drug lab in a Capistrano Beach garage died in a hospital Friday from injuries sustained in an explosion last month, authorities have confirmed.

Lee Haumea Sermur, 31, died at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana Friday, December 13 at 2:56 p.m., according to the Orange County Coroner’s Division. Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Jeff Hallock confirmed Sermur was suspected of operating a cannabis oil lab.

Sermur was seriously injured in a garage explosion and subsequent fire in the 26000 block of Vista del Mar in Capistrano Beach on Tuesday, November 5.

Smoke billows from a Capistrano Beach home November 5. Witnesses reported hearing a loud blast before the house on Vista Del Mar became engulfed in flames. Photo by Andrea Papagianis
Smoke billows from a Capistrano Beach home November 5. Photo by Andrea Papagianis

Authorities believe Sermur attempted to extract THC—or tetrahydrocannabinol—the chief intoxicant in marijuana, from finely ground stems and leaves of marijuana plants. The extraction process involves using the flammable butane gas, in a liquid form, and leaves behind a highly concentrated form of THC, known as hash oil, honey oil, shatter, wax, dabs and earwax.

A drop or two of butane hash oil can be as potent as a marijuana cigarette or joint, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

While the drug is not new on the scene, Orange County officials have seen a rise in extraction related incidents over the past year. In the last 12 months, the OCSD Hazardous Devices Section, also known as the county’s “Bomb Squad,” has responded to 14 cases similar to the one in Capo Beach.

Around noon on November 5, a single, large blast shook a quiet Capistrano Beach neighborhood.

Within seconds, black smoke and flames towered above the home near the corner of Vista Del Mar and Calle del Sol. Neighbors and people in nearby businesses rushed to the streets and into neighboring homes, calling on occupants to get out.

The Orange County Fire Authority received multiple calls about the explosion, and nearly 60 firefighters responded to the two-alarm blaze. The home’s garage door was blown off in the explosion and damage from the flames affected nearby residences. Fire officials had the fire under control within the hour.

Upon entering the garage, authorities discovered the remains of a dog among the debris, containing tanks of butane and propane, along with marijuana paraphernalia.

Only one person, Sermur, was in the home at the time of the explosion. He was severely burned and was transported to the burn unit at Western Medical Center, where he died Friday, more than a month after the explosion. Charges relating to the incident were never filed.

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