On Thursday May 23rd Merced Police and Merced City Fire responded to the 1200 block of Aspen for an explosion to an occupied residence. Michael Branham, 38 was arrested and then later released in the Fresno Regional Hospital due to burns on 50% of his body, believed to be received while conducting attempts to convert marijuana into an oil.
Witnesses reported hearing a loud explosion that resulted in the windows of the home blown out and pushing the north side wall out several inches. Once inside the two story residence officers found that the entire second floor had been converted into a marijuana grow and contained numerous plants alongside irrigation lines and wiring to grow lights. Officers judged the residence second floor as prone to collapse through the floor before exiting.
Preservation of the grow may have been the reason that witnesses also reported seeing a white male adult run into the house with a garden hose before authorities arrived. The fire was successfully put out as determined by City Fire. Agents assigned to the Merced Narcotics Force processed the residence for evidence.Merced Police are asking anyone with any information regarding this crime to contact the Merced Narcotics Task Force (209) 385-6913 or (209) 385-4702, or the Merced Police Department Tipster Line at (209) 385-4725. The public can send information via anonymous text messages to police department by dialing “TIP411” (847411) and including the word “Comvip” as the “keyword” in the text message.
Allvoices: Drug Lab Explodes in Merced