Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Science experiment leads to arrests

It seems amateur science can be risky in more ways than one:

Two teenagers in Kelowna learned a lesson in not playing with matches Tuesday night after they set off a hydrogen gas explosion that brought out the bomb squad.

Police received a call shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday from a neighbour. The caller reported that an explosion rattled windows and caused one person at the home to jump off a couch, according to Cnst. Steve Holmes.

“Neighbors went outside to find a woman and two males, in their late teens, picking up debris off their driveway,” said Holmes. “A noticeable ring of “charring” scarred the driveway and one of the young men stated that it was only hydrogen, which is a flammable gas.”

Holmes said a witness advised that a smaller explosion had been heard coming from the same residence earlier in the day.

“Police arrived, along with the fire department and maintained a distance from the residence as it was unknown what kind of explosive devices they were dealing with,” said Holmes. “Police called the residence and asked the 49-year-old female inside to come outside.”

The woman went outside her home and was detained by police as they spoke with her, said Holmes.

“Police learned that her two teenage sons were experimenting with hydrogen gas and that it was a science experiment that had gotten out of hand,” said Holmes.

The teenagers were out looking for their dog, which had run away when the hydrogen was detonated. After a search, they were found and arrested for possession of explosives.

Source, my emphasis. Now I don't know about you, but when I was a kid I had a chemistry set, and the instructions explained how to make - and detonate - small amounts of hydrogen. To be fair, they may have been a bit cavalier in the amount they made, and they shouldn't have done it with the dog off the leash, but the charge levied is one that in the old days was usually only applied to serious stuff, usually if you're actually trying to do damage. Of course, if they'd hurt someone, a charge of criminal negligence might be justified, but if possession of any material that could cause an explosion is a crime, then you'd best get rid of any blowtorches, gas barbecues, aerosol cans, and the like that you might have.

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