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Investigators say fireworks in safe caused Hopkinton explosion

The two men killed in an early morning explosion Tuesday in Hopkinton sparked the blast when they tried to break into a safe containing fireworks with a cutting torch, officials said yesterday.

Along with the state fire marshal’s office, the Hopkinton police and fire departments identified the two men as Lucas Bourke, 21, of Allenstown and Ethan Keeler, 20, of Epsom.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Rob Farley said Bourke and Keeler were attempting to steal from a workshop at New Yard Landscaping on Farrington Corner Road when they tried to cut open a lockbox at the landscaping business with an oxyacetylene cutting torch.

“It appears that they were attempting to take property from the facilities unlawfully,” Farley said.

But consumer fireworks stored inside the metal safe exploded, killing the two men and causing significant damage to the building, Farley said.

“Any time you take a pyrotechnic material – whether it’s gunpowder, black powder, fireworks – any time you put it inside a sealed container, when it burns it builds up tremendous pressures. . . . Because (the fireworks were) in a closed container, that’s what made it into a blast,” Farley said.

Farley said it would not be considered abnormal to store fireworks in a lockbox or safe for safekeeping.

It is unclear whether Bourke and Keeler had any previous connection to New Yard Landscaping. The company’s owner, Tom Komisarek, declined comment.

Court documents show both Bourke and Keeler had criminal records.

Keeler had been due to appear in Concord’s district court next week for a hearing on a Class A misdemeanor charge of possessing Percocet without a prescription, as well as misdemeanor charges of theft and violation of probation or parole. He was also scheduled for trial in November on a Class B misdemeanor charge of driving a dirt bike after his license was suspended in July. He had been convicted of the same charge in Hooksett’s district court in May, according to court documents.

Keeler had also been convicted on a felony charge of forgery earlier this year in Merrimack County Superior Court.

Bourke’s past convictions include a Class B misdemeanor for possession of marijuana.

The incident is still under investigation, Farley said.

“We’re going to continue conducting interviews and piecing together some of the loose ends,” Farley said.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

Legacy Comments6

what consideration did these two boys give to the owner of the landscaping company before seeking to deprive him of the tools he needs to keep his livelihood? None... While a death sentence would be extreme if imposed by the court, it appears that the universe decided to impose its own punishment. Like it or not. Then again, had the business own been carrying a firearm and happened to go to his building for what ever reason... they might have been shot as well. Deadly force would have been justified in this case.

Anytime someone dies it is a tragedy. For these to young people their deaths were the result of their actions. No, they did not know there were fire works in side the safe. But, their actions caused the explosion. In all parts of our lives there are results and consequences to what we do. For some it is a ticket for doing 75 mph in a 35 mph zone while for others it is is death following an accident for speeding. I may not always like what he CM prints but printing their criminal history is not the issue. They did not have permission to be on the property and were up to no good and one was due in court to face other charges. I, as many do, feel sorry for the families. They will miss their loved ones no matter what those two did to cause their own deaths.

Hey buddy, here is the safe, get the torch and we can steal whatever is inside. With this torch we'll be rich in no time ! Ka-boom. And the lesson is? Stupidity is it's own reward.

sam1, Last I checked our criminal justice system doesn't hand out death sentences for stealing. Insinuating that these young men deserved to die for their crime is a little much. If you wish to judge folks and condemn them to death, I would assume you've never broken any laws your self? I am sure their families are grieving, these young men, while they did make a terrible decision do not deserve to be made fun of simply because you can hide behind your computer screens anonymity. I do not know these people, but I can tell you that most 21 year olds make bad decisions at some point. They did not deserve death or your public ridicule.

Concord Monitor is only showing what great members of society where just lost. Perhaps, all fireworks should be stored in safes and lockboxes, and we can help reduce the backlog in the court system.

Two young men have passed away, yet the paper finds it necessary to print prior offenses. What does that matter at this point. So sad that there is no consideration for the grieving family.

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