Missoula Man Arrested After 3 Burned in Explosion

Someone was using butane to make hash oil from marijuana when the explosion happened

By Molly Priddy

MISSOULA — Three people, including a child, suffered burns in an apparent drug-related explosion at a University of Montana-owned apartment.

Missoula police arrested 24-year-old Patrick Wayne Austin on a $20,000 burglary warrant, but they say he also is suspected in the blast.

Police say someone in the apartment was using butane to make hash oil from marijuana when the explosion happened at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday, blowing out three windows in the second-story apartment.

Austin suffered second-degree burns, while an 18-year-old woman and a 19-month-old child suffered first-degree burns.

Missoula County jail records indicate Austin also was arrested on suspicion of two criminal endangerment charges, three drug charges and arson. His bail was preliminarily set at $300,000. Austin is scheduled to appear in Justice Court on Tuesday, Lt. Scott Brodie said.

The 18-year-old woman who was injured is a University of Montana student who rented the apartment and is responsible for the damages because Austin was her guest, UM spokeswoman Peggy Kuhr said. The apartment is about nine blocks from campus.

“No drugs of any kind are allowed in UM family housing,” Kuhr told KGVO-AM. “In this case, the actions of the student, who is the tenant, will be reviewed under the Student Conduct Code, and that will be referred to the Dean of Students.”

Penalties could include expulsion from the university, Kuhr said.

The female student has not been identified and was not immediately charged with any crime. Officials with Child Protective Services were notified, Brodie said.

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