Fireworks caused explosion, police say

20-year-old man killed in Williston accident

By Marianne Apfelbaum
Observer staff

An explosion in Williston on Tuesday afternoon claimed the life of 20-year-old Colchester resident Anthony Boisvert.

The explosion occurred at the warehouse of Demag Riggers Crane Service, a large truck and equipment moving company off Demag Drive in Williston.

Boisvert, a Demag employee, was trying to open an old, industrial-sized safe at the time of the accident. According to Williston Police Chief Jim Dimmick, Demag Riggers had a “side business” picking up and refurbishing old safes, or using them for “scrap.” The safe’s contents were unknown at the time Boisvert was using a cutting torch tool to try and open the back of the safe, police said. Sparks from the tool “reached the interior of the safe,” and the “explosive material inside exploded and destroyed the safe, and killed Mr. Boisvert,” according to police reports.

Boisvert died instantly at the scene, the report notes.

When contacted on Wednesday, a man who answered the phone at Demag Riggers refused to comment on the incident.

Police were able to track down the previous owners of the safe, which had been sitting “dormant and in the way” at an apartment building in Winooski, according to Dimmick. The owner of the home called Demag Riggers to remove the safe, Dimmick said. The original owners of the safe were traced to “the Carolinas” and told police that the safe contained a box of M80s, which Dimmick described as large, high-powered fireworks, which are illegal in Vermont.

When Boisvert was trying to open the back of the safe with the torch tool, “sparks flew, hit the firecrackers, and literally blew the safe into pieces,” Dimmick said. No other injuries were reported, but a van parked in a “bay” adjacent to the area where Boisvert was working was damaged by the explosion. “It is likely others would have been hurt” that were working in a nearby area if the van were not there, Dimmick said.

Williston Police are working with the federal department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Vermont State Police Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team, the Vermont Occupational Health and Safety Administration (VOSHA), Williston Fire Department and the state’s Assistant Medical Examiner in investigating the incident, according to a press release issued by Williston Police.

The Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms laboratory will assist investigators in determining and confirming some of the evidence collected at the scene, according to the release. At press time, representatives from VOSHA were continuing their investigation at the scene.

Anyone with information on the accident is urged to call Williston Police at 878-6611.