By Elliot Spagat
The Associated Press
SAN DIEGO — A couple believed to be extracting oil from hashish likely caused an explosion Wednesday that gutted part of a hotel near SeaWorld San Diego and sent guests running for safety, authorities said.
A fire was reported at the three-story Heritage Inn Sea World Hotel shortly before 11:15 a.m. Several people called 911 and said there was an explosion at the hotel and people were running outside, screaming, police said.
Flames spread from the second floor but the blaze was mostly under control within minutes.
Julie Jordan, 30, said she heard a powerful explosion in a nearby room and the building shook like an earthquake. She came out of the room and saw a man sitting at the bottom of the stairs and moaning.
"People were screaming and running and a man was burning from head to toe," Jordan said. "His skin was falling off."
A 22-year-old man who was in the room where the explosion occurred suffered serious injuries. Another woman, who was in the room, also was injured as well as a man in a nearby room, police said.
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Lt. Joseph Ramos also said investigators found several boxes containing canisters of butane inside the room.