AN explanation given for an Invercargill explosion which left two people badly burned has been rubbished by a fire investigator and police are not ruling out criminal charges.
Emergency services rushed to a Rothesay Pl house last Wednesday after a butane gas bottle exploded and a fire broke out.
A 28-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman were taken to Southland Hospital and then to Dunedin Hospital to be treated for burns. They had since been released from hospital.
Invercargill Police said on Tuesday they were not ruling out laying criminal charges over the incident, but would not comment further until the investigation was completed.
Invercargill fire investigator Murray Milne-Maresca, who examined the scene, strongly disputed a claim from the father of the woman burned about the cause of the explosion.
Lyall Bower told The Southland Times the explosion occurred as his daughter and her partner were smoking cigarettes in the laundry when a butane gas bottle fell off a shelf.
Mr Milne-Maresca said this version of events did not stack up.
As a specialist fire investigator, he was qualified to investigate fires involving any hazardous substances or explosions.
“Butane cans have a double safety mechanism and when they drop, they do not explode.
“This could not happen unless the can is punctured or leaking and it comes into contact with a naked flame.”
As part of his investigation, he tested the hypothesis by dropping butane gas bottles from 3m and 6m heights on to concrete
While the cause and determination of the incident would be released by police, who were the lead agency on the case, he was “100% confident” it was not a result of the bottle hitting the ground.
“There is no way that gas bottle exploded from falling.”
Asked if he stood by his explanation for the cause of the explosion, Mr Bower said that was what he “was told”.
A Givealittle page, which names the pair as “Becky B” and “Sam J”, has been set up by Anna Cannon, the mother of the male victim. In a statement on the page, she said the couple had suffered serious burns to their arms and faces.
Money raised would help them replace items they had lost in the fire as they “do not have insurance”.