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Officials Discover Clandestine Lab After Fridge Explodes In SLC Apartment Building

(Graham Dudley,

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A man and woman were arrested and booked into Salt Lake County Jail after officials determined they were running a clandestine lab out of their apartment in downtown Salt Lake City.

Fire crews initially responded to the structure fire at 360 South 400 West shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday, according to SLC Fire Captain Anthony Burton.

Burton said the call came in as an explosion in a refrigerator from an apartment unit on the third floor.

When fire crews arrived, they found light smoke coming from the area.

Firefighters took an aggressive approach, but luckily, the fire was contained by the sprinkler system in the building.


“As they were making sure they didn’t have anybody inside the structure and the rest of the fire was out, they found some suspicious substances in there,” said Burton.

Hazmat crews and the health department were then called in.

The Salt Lake City Police Department also responded to the scene, and a warrant was issued to search the apartment. During the search, “it was found to be a working and operational clandestine lab,” according to the probable cause statement.

“Chemicals and other items were located to make illegal drugs,” read the PC statement. “During the search, drug paraphernalia was located, like a glass pipe used to smoke drugs… as well as packaged marijuana… (and) MDMA.”

Late Saturday night, two people — Ryan Joseph Cahouet, 25, and Brianna Westre, 21 — were arrested and booked into Salt Lake County Jail on charges of operating a clandestine laboratory, use or possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a controlled substance — marijuana.

Two units in the building were affected in the incident — one by the fire and one by water damage from the sprinklers.

Capt. Burton said two people were treated and released on scene for possible smoke inhalation.

“Very minor in nature,” he said.

No other injuries were reported.

Burton said the rest of the apartment structure was considered safe to be occupied.

The street between 300 South and 400 South was closed for several hours while officials assessed the scene.

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