Bridgeport Explosion called ‘tragic accident’
BRIDGEPORT — The woman who mistook an explosive device for a candle suffered serious injuries to her hand and face when what police called a “quarter stick of dynamite” exploded Thursday night.
The 30-year-old was initially treated at Bridgeport Hospital and then was transferred to Yale New Haven Hospital, police spokesman Av Harris said Friday.
The fire marshal ruled the explosion “a tragic accident” in an initial investigation, Harris said.
The woman, her husband and their two children were in their home in the 1200 block of Lindley Street when they lost power amid severe storms that hit the city around 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
“The family remembered that when they purchased their home two years ago, there were a couple of what they thought were candles, left in the basement by the previous residents of the home or (previous) homeowners,” Harris said.
The woman, who was not identified by police, lit one of the objects, Harris said. It exploded in her hand, blowing out at least one window in the home, Assistant Fire Chief Michael Caldaroni said at the scene Thursday night.
“She suffered extreme injuries to one of her hands ... she also suffered serious injuries to her face,” Harris said. On Thursday night, Caldaroni said the woman lost several fingers.
Harris said no one else in the home was injured in the blast. Caldaroni said one of the woman’s children called 911.
Fire and police units found another “dynamite device” when they searched the home, Harris said. Caldaroni described it Thursday as a “makeshift firework.” First responders evacuated the two homes on either side of the residence as a precaution, Harris said.
The device was removed by Bridgeport fire personnel with the help of the state police bomb squad. Harris said the device was detonated and disposed of by state police.
In Connecticut, possession of dynamite, fireworks or firecrackers is illegal.
“Since this appears to have been an accident (and) the residents of this home had no prior knowledge that what they had in their home were explosive devices not permitted by law, the Bridgeport police will not be pressing any charges as a result of this incident at this time,” Harris said.
The United State Bomb Data Center Explosives Incident Report, which reviews bombing and explosive-related incidents in the U.S., reported 67 people were injured by explosives in 2017.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives describes on its website a so-called quarter stick of dynamite — also known as an M-1000 — as one inch in diameter and about six inches long.
ATF said this specific explosive device can have anywhere from 25 to 30 grams of explosive mixture inside it and can cause extremely severe bodily injuries. ATF said such explosions have caused death in some cases.
Harris said residents should always contact the local fire department if they find something in their home they are unfamiliar with, that looks possibly flame- or fire-related.
A contractor working in the backyard of a Cornell Street home on Aug. 18 found a World War II-era hand grenade buried under the ground, Harris said at the time. The state bomb squad removed and safely detonated the device.
And, in the case of power outages, officials urge residents to avoid lighting candles to reduce the risk of fire damage.
“Always have backup auxiliary lighting,” Harris said. “The lighting should be battery-operated, glow stick or hand-crank lighting.”