A man accused of making hash oil and starting a small fire in a Los Osos apartment Tuesday was convicted in 2010 of manufacturing oil in another case that court records show resulted in a fire that injured an 11-year-old boy.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Matthew David Culver, 32, of Los Osos was still being treated for severe burns to his face and arms in the burn center of the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno and had not yet been booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla said.
Investigators plan to charge Culver with suspicion of manufacturing a controlled substance and elder abuse after he is released, according to a news release.
Firefighters responded at about 4:21 p.m. to a report of a fire at an apartment in the 1300 block of Los Olivos Avenue in Los Osos. When they arrived, they found the fire had been extinguished and that one of the residents had taken himself to a local hospital to be treated for burns, a Cal Fire spokesman said.
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The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit arrived and allegedly found evidence of a butane honey oil conversion lab, which uses highly volatile butane to convert low-grade marijuana into concentrated hash oil, also called honey oil.
An elderly man who leases the apartment was inside when the fire occurred but was not injured.
Culver has a long list of criminal convictions and is currently awaiting a preliminary hearing in San Luis Obispo Superior Court for a Jan. 23 arrest on suspicion of intending to sell more than 25 pounds of marijuana, court documents show. He pleaded not guilty to that charge on Jan. 28 and was allowed to remain out of jail while awaiting his next hearing.
Court records also show that Culver was tried and convicted in 2010 for making oil after the oil-conversion process caused a fire in a residential trailer in Templeton in November 2009 that injured an 11-year-old boy.
According to a Sheriff’s Office report of the incident, a child welfare worker spoke to the boy following the fire. The social worker later told a detective that the boy, who was the son of Culver’s then-girlfriend, said he would often assist Culver in making oil in the trailer’s kitchen.
The boy later told the detective that he was helping Culver mix the oil in a bowl on a counter next to the stove when the bowl tipped over, causing a small explosion and fire, according to the detective’s report.
The boy reportedly said Culver had to break a window to run a hose into the house and put out the fire. The boy allegedly suffered minor burns to the face.
Culver was not convicted of child endangerment in that case and pleaded no contest to a single felony charge of manufacturing a controlled substance.
He has a long list of local felony convictions dating back to 2005, including possession of concentrated cannabis, petty theft, receiving stolen property and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
San Luis Obispo County narcotics officers have made several arrests in recent years for alleged hash oil operations that caused fires and, in some cases, mild explosions.
The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office has yet to file charges against Culver in Tuesday’s incident.