Police arrested a 53-year-old San Francisco man Friday on suspicion of manslaughter, drug manufacturing, and child endangerment, in connection with the deadly explosion in the Sunset District on Thursday that destroyed two homes and damaged several others.
The suspect, 53-year-old Darron Price, was taken into custody after turning himself in Friday, as KPIX reports. Price was contacted by authorities and located on the unit block of Newhall Street in the India Basin/Bayview neighborhood. According to a statement from police, investigators found what they believe to have been "an active illegal narcotics manufacturing lab" on the lower level of the home at 1734 22nd Avenue.
A police source told KPIX that hash oil was being manufactured in the home, while the Chronicle reports via jail records that the lab was manufacturing phencyclidine, otherwise known as PCP. KPIX's source said further that the home health aide whom witnesses saw come running out of the burning home allegedly was doing laundry Thursday morning and turned a dryer on, which likely sparked the explosion.
The health aide was a caretaker for the woman who died in the blast, whose remains were found in the rubble late Thursday.
Investigators were seen removing 50-gallon metal drums and other cylinders from the home on Friday, which the SFFD wouldn't initially confirm were the definitive source of the blast. As we learned Friday afternoon, it was one of these cylinders, containing butane or propane, that caused a disruptive hazmat situation near Daly City BART — a police vehicle was transporting the canister when it was reportedly heard hissing.
ABC 7 reports via a victim's statement that a husband and wife lived in the home with two children, who were away at school when the blast occurred.
Price is being held at San Francisco County Jail on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter, drug manufacturing, and two counts of endangering children.
Police are still seeking information in the case, and anyone with information can call the 24-hour tip line at 415-575-4444 or send a text to TIP411 and begin the text message with "SFPD."
The identity of the deceased woman has not been released.
Possible gas explosion at home at 22nd Avenue and Moraga this morning. 3-alarm fire. One burn victim reported. Possible fatality. SF firefighters doing everything they can. pic.twitter.com/4quZZfVx48— Joel Engardio (@JoelEngardio) February 9, 2023
The explosion rocked the Sunset District for many blocks around 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning, and while initial reports were that it was a possible natural gas explosion, suspicions quickly pivoted to something else.
As Supervisor Joel Engardio, who represents the district, said to the Chronicle on Friday, "Houses usually don’t just explode like that."
Engardio put out another statement Friday night following Price's arrest and news of the drug lab, saying, "Dangerous manufacturing of drugs that blows up a house and causes death and mayhem in a neighborhood is as serious as dealing deadly fentanyl in an open air drug market. Both crimes should be prosecuted in San Francisco."
Engardio said he would be holding a town-hall meeting for nearby residents of 22nd Avenue "to offer resources and information to heal from this tragedy." He added, "I know residents have been traumatized by what happened on their block."