Santa Barbara authorities arrested 26-year-old Laurence Larsen on Saturday after he started a fire in his De La Vina Street apartment while allegedly cooking up hallucinogenic drugs. Larsen suffered burns to his arms and wrists, and a neighbor who heard his screams and helped douse the fire was treated for smoke inhalation.
According to the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office, Larsen was trying to make dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a powerful hallucinogen. “The manufacturing process requires the extraction of chemicals from root bark through the use of highly toxic and flammable chemicals in an extraction vessel over an open flame,” said Sheriff’s spokesperson Kelly Hoover. Officials believe Larsen tried to add paint thinner to the mixture in glass jars, which overflowed and ignited on the open flames. “[It was] similar to throwing gasoline on a fire,” said Hoover.
Firefighters said the apartment’s kitchen and adjacent bedroom sustained extensive damage. Members of the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force assisted in the investigation.
Larsen was transported to the hospital for his injuries then booked in County Jail on charges of manufacturing an illegal substance and illegally causing a fire with injuries. More charges are pending, said Hoover.
“The Sheriff’s Office wants to remind the public that these illegal drug manufacturing labs are extremely volatile and dangerous,” said Hoover. “They are capable of creating large explosions and put the entire surrounding community at risk. If you suspect this type of criminal activity is occurring, it is important to contact law enforcement right away.”