FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Police say a man standing near a fire pit at a North Carolina home has died after an explosion.
A news release from Fayetteville police says the explosion occurred Saturday night in the front yard of a home where several people were standing around a fire pit. Police weren’t immediately able to elaborate on what kind of explosion happened.
They say that the man person was pronounced dead at the scene, and several other people had injuries that didn’t appear life-threatening.
The others injured included two men, a woman and a girl. They were taken to an area hospital.
Now, when we saw that, the first thing we thought was: Fayetteville = Army town = 82nd Airborne, various SOF, and some support elements, some of whom have rudimentary brain-stem functions only. Boy howdy, this sure sounds like a GI thinking it was clever to t’row a couple of artillery simulators in the fire. So… we got digging.
Turns out that our idea was dead wrong. The guy was not an Army guy playing with ordnance. Instead, it was just a family/neighborhood fire, using a fire pit and a metal stove, and some genius put a fuel like gasoline inside the wood burning stove. The fuel-air mixture did the rest, and shredded attendees and the nearby terrain with iron-stove-casing shrapnel. A further report:
Fayetteville Fire Department Battalion Chief Ron Lewis says investigators determined that someone poured a gas or gas mixture onto a log inside the front-yard fire pit to accelerate the burning. Lewis says combustible vapors built up in the belly of the stove and ignited after someone stuck a piece of paper inside.
After some time, more details began emerging:
Police today identified the victim who died in the blast as Martin Antoine Blossom, 28, who was visiting his grandmother and family member at the home where the explosion occurred.
Charles Wright, 37, said he was one of about seven adults and 10 children sitting around the fire pit in the driveway of Blossom’s home at 6544 St. Louis St. There was loud conversation, dancing to music playing on a car radio and a little bit of beer, he said.
This local episode of The Big Bang Theory wasn’t funny.
Neighbors said the explosion shook their home like an artillery boom from Fort Bragg.
Steven Kefauver, 12, who was at the fire pit at his next-door neighbor’s house, said his sister, Brianna, 14, had shrapnel wounds on her arm and was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.
Steven, who appeared to have been crying, had minor wounds on his leg.
“We heard a small boom, and then a big one,” Steven said. “The whole thing blew up.”
Even the light blue Fort Taurus parked nearby was heavily damaged. Wright said it “looked like somebody shot it with an Uzi.”
Fuel-air explosions, and the energy in liquid fuels in general, are vastly underrated as a source of casualty-producing explosions. A novice error is to think the fuel explodes and douse the initiator or flame with a too-rich load of fuel. It’s actually the fuel-air mixture that goes off (and it actally deflagrates, not detonates, which casualties like Blossom and the Wrights might see as an insignificant distinction).