Friday, April 20 , 2018, 11:52 am | Fair 62º


Man Pleads No Contest to Arson Charge in Drug-Related Apartment Fire, Explosion

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced today that Antonio McBride​ Villasana pled no contest to arson of an inhabited dwelling, manufacturing of a controlled substance (concentrated cannabis), both felonies, and one misdemeanor count of child endangerment (related to a child of a neighboring family).  

The charges stemmed from an explosion and fire in an Ellwood Beach Drive apartment on July 21, 2014, in which the defendant was illegally manufacturing concentrated cannabis, or “honey oil,” using butane gas.  

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department arson investigator concluded that the explosion likely resulted from the flammable butane gas which collected inside the walls of the apartment, and ignited when it encountered an ignition source.  

The defendant suffered serious burns in the incident. Fortunately, no one else was injured in the blast.

Villasana was sentenced to serve 180 days in county jail and will be placed on felony probation for five years. He was ordered to pay restitution for damages caused by the explosion and fire. Additionally, he must register as an arsonist for the duration of his life. 

District Attorney Joyce Dudley recognized the exemplary response by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, American Medical Response, and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.  

“Serious fires and explosions caused by butane honey oil or BHO operations are becoming all too common in our communities. They often occur in multi-unit dwellings and high-density housing areas, placing other innocent residents at risk to potential fires and explosions. The perpetrators often suffer burns and other serious injuries.”  

Dudley emphasized that the tremendous public safety risk to neighbors and responding fire-fighting personnel from butane honey oil operations requires serious criminal consequences, stating, “Those who manufacture butane honey oil may be prosecuted for numerous drug-related charges, as well as ‘strike’ offenses, including arson, if the manufacturing results in a fire or explosion.” 

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >