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Fire officials cite misuse as cause in bug bomb blow-up

By Staff | Jul 23, 2009

State fire investigators said they believe that the explosion of a fumigation device in a Cape Coral home Tuesday may have been caused by misuse of the device, and that the blast may have been sparked by a nearby dishwasher.
The homeowners worry a faulty bug bomb could have been the cause instead.
Laurie Grabowski was fumigating her home on Bolado Parkway for bugs at 10:43 a.m. when the device exploded.
The blast caused first-degree burns to Grabowski’s legs, blew out a window of the home and caused other damages, her family said.
Grabowski is recovering from massive blistering and the possibility of infection, among other issues caused by her injuries.
State Fire Marshal Lt. Joe Minervini said Wednesday afternoon that the propellant from the device is flammable, and likely ignited due to sparks from an electric motor in a nearby dishwasher.
Placing the device under the sink, he said, went against the directions listed on the product’s box.
“We think the person set the bug bomb under the sink against the directions of that,” Minervini said.
Grabowski’s husband, Joe, said the dishwasher theory does not add up to him and his family because it was not running when the explosion occurred.
“It’s easy to blame it on the dishwasher, but you might be sweeping the real problem under the rug,” he said.
The device itself did not explode, Joe Grabowski said. It was only the expelled chemicals which ignited.
He said the family spoke with a representative of the Cape Coral Fire Department for several hours Wednesday to try to clear up the facts about the incident.
Fire department representatives could not be reached Wednesday night for comment.
The Grabowskis have spoken with a lawyer and with their insurance adjuster regarding the incident. They await the results of an independent lab test on the can.
“We have no idea what made that thing explode,” Joe Grabowski said. “I guess everyone’s a bit baffled.”
Instructions on the product’s box suggest not to place the device in a cabinet or under a counter or table. The instructions suggest the device is to be used on a chair, table or stand in the center of an open room.
The Grabowskis said they did not read all of the instructions before using the product, but used it in the manner they had for years without incident.
It had been placed on a low ledge beneath the kitchen sink, away from the dishwasher with the cabinet doors open, Joe Grabowski said.
“It’s one of those things that’s like one in a million,” he said.