Cops: Handheld power tool likely sparked Water Mill home explosion

A worker surveys the scene at last week's Water Mill explosion. (Credit: Christine Fuge courtesy photo)

According to Southampton Det. Sgt. Lisa Costa, the preliminary results of an investigation have revealed that a Water Mill home explosion was sparked when a power tool cut through a live gas line, igniting the flame that blew up the Old Country Road home and sent two Riverhead men to the hospital.

The incident is not considered criminal at this time.

Ms. Costa said yesterday that 18-year-old Abner Canel appeared to be using a Dremel tool — a handheld rotary tool — when he cut through a gas pipe.

She said the Southampton Fire Department is working with the New York State Department of Public Service, National Grid, and the town fire marshal to complete its investigation.

“At this juncture, it is not deemed criminal,” she said on Tuesday.

It remains unclear if a licensed contractor had employed Mr. Canel and Mr. Perez, both of whom were in fair condition at Stony Brook University Hospital as of yesterday.

According to Ms. Costa, a preliminary investigation found that demolition permits for the home were applied for by the homeowner to the Town of Southampton, but it appears work was being done on the house before anything had been approved.

A representative from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration said last week that the federal agency has up to six months to complete its own review to see if any safety regulations were violated.

The names of any employers involved in the incident have not been released as of yet, though Ms. Costa said that information should be forthcoming in the department’s final report.

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