Marin County Teen severely burned in explosion

Bay City News
Sunday, August 17, 2014

NOVATO, Calif. -- A teenage boy was severely burned in an explosion involving combustible powders in unincorporated Novato on Friday morning, a Marin County Sheriff's spokesman said.

Deputies responded to a report of a large explosion in the yard of a home in the 1100 block of Bel Marin Keys Boulevard around 10:30 a.m., sheriff's Lt. Doug Pittman said. A father and his teenage son were trying to dig a hole with a torch before the explosion, Pittman said.

The father drove to a hospital with his son who suffered severe injuries and burns, Pittman said.

The teenage boy's T-shirt was severely burned in the incident, he said.

Neighbors in the area said the force of the explosion shook their windows and one neighbor compared it to the sound of a large truck crashing into her home, according to Pittman.

The father was able to speak with deputies while at the hospital with his son who suffered second- and third-degree burns to his face, chest and neck, according to Pittman.

Deputies went to the home where neighbors led them to the explosion site where they found hand tools, lighter fluid, matches and canisters with powders, Pittman said.

The powders were later identified by the father as black powder and magnesium, which he and son used in an attempt to break up concrete fence posts along the side of their home, he said.

The father added more gunpowder in a blend with magnesium before igniting the mixture, according to Pittman.

He then used a torch to light a handheld flare his son was holding to ignite the powders. The father was unable to put the torch down and the flare ignited the powder leading to the explosion, Pittman said.