SACRAMENTO — She was a bright-eyed 25-year-old with a big voice, but Cassandra Pratt made a bad decision that left her burned and confined to a hospital bed.
Almost a year later, the single mother is surviving but struggling after a butane honey oil explosion last August.
Now she’s reliving those terrifying moments.
“I remember a blue light and then something exploded,” Pratt said.
She was at a Yuba City home with friends making the drug when the explosion turned her world upside down.
Pratt can’t escape the emotional scars and the physical ones are scattered throughout her body.
“Every time I can’t open something, every time I go to pick my son up and I’m in pain. There’ s not one second that goes by I don’t think about it,” Pratt said.
She is also filled with frustration because she didn’t know the dangers of manufacturing the cannabis extract.
“For the past 3 to 4 years we would be describing the number of butane honey oil incidents at an epidemic level,” said Vic Massenkoff, fire investigator with the Contra Costa Fire Protection District.
Massenkoff is an expert on honey oil fires.
He’s focused on training firefighters and raising awareness about honey oil explosions.
Helmet cam video shows firefighters rushing into intense flames ignited by butane that seeped into the air; consequences of someone manufacturing the potent drug.
“Honey oil is made in a hand-held extraction tube similar to this pipe,” Masenkoff said.
Known as honey oil, butane hash oil or dabs, the cannabis extract is made with a PVC pipe, marijuana, a pyrex and refined butane which is sold in bulk online. It’s cheap and sales are unregulated.
The vapor is clear, odorless and extremely explosive.
“The ignited vapors from this small can of butane can fill a 1500 square foot house,” said Masenkoff.
Jim Doucette is the Executive Director of the Firefighters Burn Institute in Sacramento.
“It’s devastating and it’s in people’s neighborhoods it’s in apartment buildings and you’re not gonna know it,” Doucette said.
He doesn’t have the exact number of explosions and deaths due to honey oil fires because it hasn’t been tracked.
Doucette wants that the change with the public’s help, because it’s affecting innocent people.
“It increases our work a great amount,” said Dr. Daivd Greenhalgh, Chief of Burns at UC David Burn Center and Shriners Hospital.
Last year the burn units at UC David Medical Center and Shriners admitted about 30 people suffering injuries from butane or hash oil
That’s about one in 20 patients.
Dr. Greenhalgh says burns from honey oil explosions are often much more severe than others.
“Someone comes with 80 percent burns you got somebody who’s got a bed occupied for 3, 4, 5, 6 months,” Dr. Greenhalgh said.
Cassandra Pratt spent four weeks recovering at UC Davis’ burn center and she wants to come back one day in a different role.
“I want to be a nurse, a burn nurse actually,” Pratt said.
The 25-year-old is looking toward a brighter future; rebuilding a life forever scarred.
All because no one gave her this warning:
“It’s no good, it’s not worth it, just don’t, you could die,” said Pratt.
Because of her injuries Pratt may never be able to sing like she once did.
Instead she’s using her voice to spread a message that might save a life.