Well, I suppose it was enlightening . . .

I’m very sorry that this lady had to suffer like that . . . but I can’t understand how she made that mistake.

A Connecticut woman mistakenly lit a stick of dynamite instead of a candle during a power outage and suffered severe injuries Thursday night, police said.

Authorities said the “tragic accident” happened to the 30-year-old mother of two on Lindley Street after thunderstorms passed through the Bridgeport area. The family tried to go to Home Depot to buy emergency lighting, but the store was closed.

When they got back home, they went to get what they believed were candles left behind in the basement by previous residents.

“She attempted to light one of what she thought was the candle and turned out to be a quarter stick of dynamite,” police said.

The woman was taken to the hospital with “extreme injuries” to her hands, and she might lose fingers. She also suffered serious facial injuries, police said. The explosion did not injure anyone else.

There’s more at the link.

What bugs me is, a stick of dynamite looks and feels nothing like a candle.  Furthermore, if it exploded, that means it had to be left fused, with a blasting cap inserted into the explosive.  No-one in his right mind does that – so who did it?  How old was the dynamite?  Who put it there?  How long had it been in the house?  Where did it come from in the first place?  I don’t think Connecticut has much in the way of mining operations, so I presume it was taken from a construction site, or something like that.

There are lots of questions that I’m sure local police will be trying to answer.  Meanwhile, I’m very sorry for the lady concerned, and I hope she makes a full recovery . . . but I still want to know how she mistook a quarter-stick of dynamite for a candle stub.  The explosion may not have produced much light, but I daresay it was enlightening!

(She should also be grateful it was only a quarter-stick, and probably degraded at that.  A full stick of fresh dynamite might have brought part of the house down on top of her.)



  1. A 'quarter stick' is an oversized M-80. Roughly worth two of those buggers, as I recall from my childhood. It would have a fuse, although it would look nothing like a candle. More than sufficient to destroy fingers.

    I, as a kid, seldom bothered spending money on them. I grew up on a farm. We blew up things without spending that much money.

  2. Poor reporting. It was almost certainly not a "quarter stick of dynamite". Dynamite requires an initiator like a blasting cap. No one, even slobs stupid enough to leave dynamite behind when they move out, stores dynamite with a blasting cap crimped to it. I'll bet this was an "M-80", "M-100" or another firework, which folklore claims is "as powerful as 1/4 stick of dynamite!".

  3. Yeah, calling total Barbara Streisand on that whole story.

    I took care of someone once who'd held on to a firework.
    Babysat one of his fingers, on ice, in fact.

    If he got a decent surgeon, and lots of rehab, he might have a thumb and index finger left on his new claw.

    And "dynamite" doesn't come in "quarter" sticks.
    It also becomes less stable with age, not less explosive.

    If anybody had lit a stick of dynamite, they'd be scraping her DNA off the remains of the rubble.

  4. My vague recollection from childhood is that they come with an integral fuse. The ones I saw used were also striped yellow and black, like a barbershop pole. (circa 1960) Strong enough to blow most all the leaves off a very tall oak tree in mid summer, when tossed up inside it. Noticeably larger than an M-80 firecracker.

    No one back then would have ever mistook one for a candle, but most people today have little real life experience, but mistake what they see on a video screen as life. Ignorance abounds as a result. I'm amazed at the difference with people who are only 20 years younger, and the wider the age spread, the dumber they seem. Partly schooling, partly parental attempts to wrap kids in bubble wrap, it seems. Some of that bubble wrapping seems to be a response to government interference in child rearing. Not good. We are paying a price for that bit of stupidity.

  5. It's just barely plausible.
    I'd be more inclined to credit it if the claim was she mistook it for a road flare.

    But old enough dynamite was sealed in a protective layer of wax.
    While it takes a shock to make it go boom, nitroglycerin-soaked sawdust ought to burn very energetically. Just the burning could do serious damage to her hand. And if she freaked and tried to beat out the flame, I could see things going very poorly indeed.

  6. Or, well, maybe this was an act of someone accidentally blowing herself up ala Weatherman style.

    Anymore, when I hear of accidents of this type, I tend to first believe it's some terrorist self-terrorizing, so to speak.

    Can't wait to read the follow-up on this.

  7. 1) Bridgeport is The 'Hood. It's a city, but the projects are one of the better parts, if that tells you something.
    2) What Carteach said. M-80's and heavier-weight firecrackers are generally fused at the midbody, making them being ID'd as a candle unlikely. However, see #1.


    There WAS a thriving market for black-market m-80's in Boston and Providence in the 80's and 90's. Great for fishing in shallow ponds. We used to buy them from low-level legbreakers who sold fireworks out of the trunks of Cadillacs at the haymarket in Boston. My guess is that is where these came from and being dumb and/or baked out of one's trees had a role too.

  8. The weather in that part of CT must be quite pleasant if this thunderstorm was the first to knock out power. I can see why this woman was unprepared; this situation was a new experience for her.

  9. Dynamite is just nitroglycerine soaked in a stabilizing compound, Fullers Earth as I recall, then packed in a waxed cardboard tube.
    It requires a blasting cap to explode initiated either by a lit fuze or an electrical charge. Sticks are NEVER shipped or stored with a fuze. In fact in many places the regs forbid storing dyno and caps in the same locker.
    Old dynamite, especially if stored without climate control, will eventually sweat nitroglycerine and become extremely unstable.
    Whenever I hear quarter stick I immediately think fishing. Weight it down with a waterproof fuze and a quarter stick will stun all fish in a 20 yard radius. Be sure to bring your dip net. It will tend to cause the flesh of those closest in to be a bit mushy.
    And as has been said already I'm more inclined to think this was a large, illegal these days in most jurisdictions, M-80 type firecracker.

  10. It might have been a canon cracker. It was filled with black powder and had a fuse sticking out the end. The only reference I could find was here: Canon Cracker.

    A blasting cap would be enough to take her hands apart and severely damage the rest of her. If it really was dynamite (which I really don't believe) it would have taken out her and everything else in a ten foot radius.

  11. And so, it was mistakenly described…


    Fire and police units found another “dynamite device” when they searched the home, Harris said. Caldaroni described it Thursday as a “makeshift firework.” First responders evacuated the two homes on either side of the residence as a precaution, Harris said.

    The device was removed by Bridgeport fire personnel with the help of the state police bomb squad. Harris said the device was detonated and disposed of by state police.

    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives describes on its website a so-called quarter stick of dynamite — also known as an M-1000 — as one inch in diameter and about six inches long.

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