Owner says deadly Hopkinton explosion caused by burglars using torch to open safe of fireworks
HOPKINTON — A safe full of fireworks and an acetylene torch caused an explosion that took the lives of two men who police said were attempting an early morning burglary at a landscaping company.
Lucas Burke, 21, of Allenstown and Ethan Keeler, 20, of Epsom died in a blast at New Yard Landscaping at 67 Farrington Corner Road.
According to the state fire marshal's office, "the two males were attempting to gain entry into a closed metal container which contained consumer fireworks using an oxy-acetylene cutting torch when the blast occurred. The investigation has revealed that the two victims did not have permission to be on the property."
Thomas Komisarek, owner of New Yard Landscaping, said the container was a safe.
"The whole thing went up and blew their bodies apart," Komisarek said.
Police were called to the business around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday after a neighbor reported the explosion. The Fire Marshal's Office investigated and found the two bodies inside the building.
According to Concord police records, Ethan Keeler was arrested July 20 on a warrant and charged with forgery and theft by deception. He was released on $15,000 personal recognizance bail.
Arthur Boneceto, who lives around the corner from the landscaping company, said he didn't hear the blast, but became worried about Komisarek, his former student at Pembroke Academy, when he heard the news reports.
"When I heard that two people got killed, I was worried about him," Boneceto said Wednesday while stopping by the company to see Komisarek. "I just want to make sure he's OK."
According to Keeler's obituary,he attended Pembroke Academy, where he played on the high school golf team. A memorial service for Keeler is planned for Friday, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Still Oaks Funeral & Memorial Home in Epsom. The family has requested that donations be made in lieu of flowers to the Phoenix House in Keene, a residential drug and alcohol treatment center.
Komisarek said the building was a total loss, but he was heading out to do a job on Wednesday morning.
"I have to go to work," he said. "There's nothing else I can do."
An earlier story follows:
HOPKINTON —Two alleged burglars who attempted to open a safe at New Yard Landscaping may have caused the explosion that destroyed the company's workshop, according to the company's owner.
Thomas Komisarek, owner of New Yard Landscaping at 67 Farrington Corner Road, said Wednesday that he believes the workshop at his business was broken into by two burglars early Tuesday morning, one of whom he said he suspects he knew.
This afternoon, the Medical Examiner's Office identified the dead men as Lucas Burke, 21, of Allenstown and Ethan Keeler, 21, of Epsom.
A press release from State Police indicated the explosion was caused as "the two males were attempting to gain entry into a closed metal container which contained consumer fireworks using an oxy-acetylene cutting torch when the blast occurred. The investigation has revealed that the two victims did not have permission to be on the property."
"The whole thing went up and blew their bodies apart," said Komisarek.
In a written statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Hopkinton Police Chief Stephen Pecora said police and firefighters responded to New Yard Landscaping about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. The state Fire Marshal's Office and state police also responded.
During the investigation, police found the bodies of two men inside the building.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.