Complaint: Marijuana manufacturing led to Whitewater house fire
ELKHORN—A man suspected of starting a Whitewater home on fire while manufacturing marijuana concentrate had pleas of not guilty entered for him Monday in Walworth County Court.
Mason G. Markiewicz, 19, is suspected of starting the fire Jan. 18 in the basement of 848 E. Clay St. where he was living, according to a criminal complaint.
Markiewicz told Whitewater police he lived in the basement and was using butane gas to make marijuana concentrate, which he called "honey oil" or "butter." Fumes leaking from butane canisters were ignited by the basement furnace, catching the carpeting on fire and spreading flames through the room, the complaint states.
On Monday, not guilty pleas were entered on Markiewicz's behalf to charges of manufacturing marijuana, negligent handling of burning materials and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Marijuana concentrate is sometimes referred to as dabs, butane hashish oil or budder, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. It can be ingested via e-cigarettes, food, drink, water or smoking.
Making concentrates with butane has resulted in disastrous explosions, according to the DEA.
Found in the basement of the Whitewater home were three butane containers, a smoking pipe, a water bong and tubing, according to the complaint. Less than 200 grams of marijuana was found, according to the complaint.
The Whitewater home was not owned by Markiewicz and was “a college house,” said Dan Necci, Walworth County district attorney.
Necci did not know if Mason was enrolled at UW-Whitewater or the extent of damage to the home.
The Gazette was not able to reach Whitewater police for comment.
Since the incident, Markiewicz has moved to Janesville, according to court documents.
Markiewicz is free on a signature bond. He will appear in court next at 1:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12, at the Walworth County Judicial Center.