A man is wanted by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in connection with several blasts in White City, Oregon on Wednesday, April 21. Two men were seriously burned, according to police, during what they suspect was an illicit cannabis extraction procedure.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions, like the cause of the blasts, which has yet to be determined. Following a late-night investigation, several departments spent Thursday, April 22 at the scene to continue putting together the mystery.
Around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, thirteen units from two separate agencies rushed to White City after more people witnessed explosions. Battalion Chief Jeff Bancroft of Fire District 3 was one of nearly 24 firefighters who battled the tall flames.
“The building was completely engulfed in flames. We had flames about 40-50 feet in the air,” Bancroft recalled, adding that it took about 45 minutes for the flames to settle. “There were propane containers, possibly other gas cylinders inside that were exploding, shooting off great big balls of fire at the top.”
When the explosions occurred, four men were by the property. Two of them were being treated in a Portland hospital for serious burns while another sustained minor burns from the fire. A fourth individual reportedly fled the scene, according to Jackson County Sheriff’s Office PIO Mike Moran, and is now a person of interest.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department is leading the investigation, working with Fire District 3, Medford Police, and the District Attorney’s Office. Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is the scale of the property damage—about which the authorities admit they have no idea.
“That’s the key to this investigation,” Moran explained. “What was it supposed to be and what actually was it? That’ll be one of the major questions that the search warrant and investigators will answer. We think that there was an illegal cannabis extraction operation going on. We’re going to try and verify that information.”
“It’s not absolute that there will be charges, but we’re pretty early in the investigation,” Moran concluded.
With about 200 homes and/or businesses around the 1500-block area losing power at the time of the incident, the storage facility on Antelope Road is now designated a crime scene