New Yorkers woke up Tuesday morning with the tragic news that a firefighter died and more than a dozen first responders were injured by a massive explosion in the Bronx. Early reports indicate the cause of the blast was an illegal propane-powered hydroponic marijuana grow facility operating in an apartment building.
Battalion Chief Michael Fahy, 44, a 17-year FDNY veteran and father of three, was killed after he was hit by flying debris, according to a local CBS News affiliate.
“Our members were investigating an odor of gas, and he was directing operations,”Commissioner Daniel Nigro told reporters. “They evacuated the surrounding buildings, got everyone else out of the way, when an explosion occurred. Chief Fahy was fatally struck with a portion of that building.”
Firefighters responded to a reported gas lead at 304 W. 234 St., near Tibbett Avenue in the Kingsbridge neighborhood, just a few miles north of Yankee Stadium. Police were called to the scene after firefighters discovered the grow lab. The blast occurred at about 7:30 a.m.
An explosion in the Kingsbridge area of the Bronx has resulted in the death of one of our bravest, and injured 12 others. pic.twitter.com/h3Yc1wqmeC
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) September 27, 2016
Investigators are still sorting through the scene collecting details on the explosion, so it is premature to point a finger at the exact cause. But incidents involving illegal, home-based marijuana operations and explosions are, unfortunately, in the headlines quite a bit these days.
Most of the cases involve converting the herb into oil using butane as an agent. Butane hash oil (BHO) is common for those users who “dab” — a highly concentrated form of consuming cannabis. Early reports do not indicate butane was the cause of the Bronx explosion.
Why was propane used as the energy source instead of electricity? It is unknown at this time, but in most cases illegal operations do not want to use electricity because it shows up as suspicious energy use for the utility company. In other words, it keeps the operation hidden from authorities.