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Explosives Likely Caused Fatal Garfield Heights Home Explosion

COLUMBUS, Ohio –Investigators with the Division of State Fire Marshal’s Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau (FEIB) determined that the probable cause of a home explosion that killed three people last month in Garfield Heights was the manufacturing of explosives. 

On Saturday, June 12, Garfield Heights Fire responded to a home explosion at 4930 E. 81st St. in Garfield Heights. The bodies of three victims were recovered from the debris: 64-year-old Donald Malinowski, 57-year-old Gerald Bateman and 37-year-old Cassandra Bateman.  

While conducting a joint scene exam with insurance company representatives on Friday, July 8, Garfield Heights firefighters located the remnants of cardboard tubes, consistent with the manufacturing of explosive devices, in the basement of the home. 

On Monday, July 11, FEIB investigators returned to the scene where they found more than 30 cardboard tubes of varying sizes, along with fuses, equipment, and chemicals associated with the manufacturing of explosives. 

State Fire Marshal Forensic Lab Bureau Chief Chad Wissinger said, “The materials recovered from the scene are used in the manufacturing of M-series type explosive devices, which contain higher amounts of explosive powders than what is typically found in consumer-grade fireworks.” 

Fire investigators say the official cause will remain undetermined pending the final report from the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, but the most probable cause is the manufacturing of explosives. “Dominion Energy ran numerous tests and didn’t find any evidence of a gas leak anywhere on the property. Additionally, the Ohio EPA tested the ground for migrating methane gas and found nothing of note,” FEIB Assistant Chief Ray McCarthy, said. “This information, combined with evidence found at the scene and witness testimony leads us to believe manufacturing of explosives is the cause of this explosion.”

Media Availability with FEIB Assistant Chief Ray McCarthy is scheduled for today (Wednesday, July 20) at 3 p.m. via Microsoft Teams at this link:
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