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A meth lab in a Fresno home exploded Thursday, destroying the house, damaging neighboring homes and leaving one man critically burned, authorities said.

The home on the 4200 block of North Katy Avenue west of Highway 99 was turned into a drug lab by a Mexican cartel, who had apparently rented it within the last 30 days, said Ben Buford, special agent in charge with the state Department of Justice Bureau of Investigation.

Buford said investigators believe the 11:40 a.m. explosion was caused when fumes from acetone, used to process methamphetamine, were ignited by a spark. The house had been sealed to prevent fumes from escaping, he said.

The blast blew off the back walls and set the home on fire. The garage door at the front of the house was blown off its frame.

Neighbors said the explosion felt like an earthquake. Windows of at least five neighboring houses were shattered by the force of the blast.

The house next door suffered extensive damage to the roof and kitchen as windows and doors were smashed and kitchen cabinets were blown off walls.

“I was laying in bed and I seen a big ball of fire,” said the neighbor, who identified himself as Johnny and declined to give his last name. “My wife and kids started screaming in the other room.”

The man said he got his family out of their house uninjured. The American Red Cross was assisting the family of four with shelter, food and water.

Buford said one man inside the blast house was severely burned and is in critical condition at Community Regional Medical Center. Two other people inside the home at the time of the explosion escaped and are being sought, he said.


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