Two men were arrested Thursday following a fire in Joshua tree. Residents near the 61800 block of Rosemary Lane reported hearing small explosions and popping noises for about 10 minutes before they saw smoke and called in the fire at 6:22 p.m. Thursday evening. A garage was fully involved with flames, and heavy black smoke could be seen for miles when firefighters from Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, Yucca Mesa, BLM, and Calfire arrived about 10 minutes later.
County Fire Battalion Chief Donnie Viloria said poorly maintained dirt roads, limited water supply, and the report of the explosions all posed challenges in fighting the blaze. There was a fire hydrant in the area, but it was quite a distance from the house. Strong winds also made fighting the blaze difficult, but still, firefighters managed to contain the blaze to the garage and several vehicles and prevented it from spreading to the home. Viloria said the fire was knocked down at 7:12 p.m.
A neighbor told Z107.7. News that another neighbor took a man and two girls to Hi-Desert Medical Center, the father with third-degree burns. The occupants and firefighters rescued a dog, two non-venomous snakes, and a family of guinea pigs.
Because of the suspicious circumstances surrounding the blaze, firefighters called in investigators from the Bomb and Arson detail. Sheriff’s investigators found dozens of exploded butane canisters on the ground and suspected a honey oil extraction lab was responsible for the fire.
Patrick Ryan, 48, of Joshua Tree, was arrested on suspicion of manufacturing a controlled substance. Patrick Ryan was booked into the West Valley Detention Center with his bail set at $500,000. A second suspect, Michal Doty, was contacted at Hi-Desert Medical Center with severe burns that he sustained when the honey oil lab exploded. Doty has not been arrested at this time.