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DSA In the News

Explosion linked to methamphetamine user

Published on 10/5/2010

A 65-year-old ex-felon was arrested in Princeton Friday after allegedly blowing up a stockpile of gunpowder with a propane torch that the man used to smoke methamphetamine, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies received a report of a fire in the neighborhood of Harvard and Columbia streets in Princeton, on the San Mateo County coast, just before 4 p.m. Friday. When they arrived, deputies found the fire was coming from a commercial storage yard on the 200 block of Yale Avenue where a camper was illegally being used as a residence. Cal Fire arrived at the scene and extinguished the blaze, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The man, John Blanchard, was allegedly smoking crystal meth at the storage yard near his camper when he left a propane torch ignited on the ground, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The torch flame lit a container of gunpowder Blanchard was apparently stockpiling, causing an explosion.

A loaded rifle was recovered from the scene as was more gunpowder and 300 feet of detonation cord found in an open safe, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The fire investigation discovered numerous hazardous, illegal materials and a variety of health and safety code violations.

Blanchard was arrested for being under the influence of methamphetamine, negligently starting a fire, being a felon in possession of a loaded firearm and being in possession of over a pound of explosive detonation cord. Blanchard was subsequently booked into county jail without incident, according to the Sheriff’s Office.