Bonfire Explosion Kills Two, Injures Others at Graduation Party

The blast took place Saturday night in St. Clair Township and remains under investigation, police said.

A bonfire explosion killed two siblings and injured others Saturday night during a graduation party in St. Clair Township, police said.

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According to St. Clair County Sheriff Tim Donnellon, a call was received shortly before 9:30 p.m., reporting the explosion at the 6500 block of Gratiot Road.

"The caller, who is a neighbor, said there was a graduation party going on at the house next door and there was an explosion at the bonfire. Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office, along with officers from the Marysville Police Department, and Fire Departments from Kimball Township, Marysville and Memphis all responded to the scene," the Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

Witnesses reported "a huge, two-story bonfire had been built," the Sheriff's Office said. 

A 27-year-old man who lived at the home poured a large amount of gasoline on the wood. He then invited his 18-year-old sister, who was celebrating her graduation, to light the fire, police said.

"When she did, an explosion occurred, with wood being scattered up to 100 yards away and blowing out the windows in the back of the residence, which was over 100 feet away from the bonfire," the Sheriff's Office stated.

The siblings, who have not yet been identified by police, were killed in the blast. Three others were transported by Tri-Hospital EMS to local hospitals with undisclosed injuries. Another person was treated at the scene and will seek later treatment. 

Deputies remained at the scene, as of midnight, and the incident remains under investigation. 

Alcohol was being served at the party, but there was no indication minors were drinking, police said.


Maximus Max August 19, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Doesn't get much sadder than this... Thoughts and prayers to the family during this horrific crisis.
Alisha Baker August 19, 2012 at 04:30 PM
This is just heartbreaking.
kerriesells@gmail.com August 22, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Please don't take this the wrong way, I personally know what it feels like to lose a child I cant image losing my only two. But I would like to know why the News does not report all of the TRUTH? Why has the news not reported that they (including the parents) had been building that bonfire for over a week? and why haven't they said anything about how they had TWO 5 Gallon buckets filled with old oil and gas in the center of the bonfire? The media is giving the impression that it was just a bonfire splashed with a little gas....it was like a two story house (they had wood pallets stacked) 200 feet in the air with logs sticking out the top I drove by that house twice a day everyday, wondering if those people were for real, if anyone would have seen it you would have just shook your head and said to yourself are those people for real? anyone with the right frame of mind would have NEVER done something like that. The parents helped build the thing for over a week! and ask yourself this it was their daughters party.....WHY WERE THEY IN THE HOUSE WHILE EVERYONE ELSE WERE OUTSIDE WATCHING HEIR LITE THE FIRE?
Richard Rowley August 22, 2012 at 03:32 PM
The media did report the truth, gas and fire do not mix, and to somehow point the fingers of this accident towards the parents is one of the most insensitive statements I have ever read here. My condolences on the loss of your child and there can be no better person than yourself to console these parents in their loss. I am sure the pain is equal to yours if not more due to loss of both son and daughter.


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