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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)