Two men were found dead when emergency workers responded to reports of an explosion at a landscaping business in Hopkinton, N.H., at about 1:30 a.m. yesterday. Initially authorities were uncertain of exactly what had happened except that the building was highly damaged and the victims were dead from severe blast trauma.
As of this morning, investigators have been able to determine that the two men were inside the building without permission and they were using a cutting torch to attempt to open a large safe. The safe was full of fireworks and it exploded due to the heat from the cutting torch.
The victims of the explosions were identified by authorities as Lucas Burke, 21, of Allenstown and Ethan Keeler, 20, of Epsom. The local television station, WMUR Channel 9, reports that both of the men have had run-ins with the law recently and that police believe the men were at the location to carry out a burglary and did not know the safe's contents.
Authorities also reported that the fireworks were the common commercial kind that can be purchased off-the-shelf at fireworks stores.
Tom Komisarek, the owner of New Yard Landscaping, said the men had already loaded some items from the business into a nearby vehicle. He said the men may have had some familiarity with the location but they probably did not know what was inside the safe.
The explosion was strong enough that neighbors were jolted by the sound and felt the ground tremor several blocks away from the blast.
The investigation is ongoing but since the deaths were likely the result of an accident during the commission of a burglary and both likely burglars are deceased it is not expected that any charges will be filed.