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Explosion at California water fuel research company kills inventor

Sterling Allan

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NBC News

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Simi Valley, CA, USA -- Realm Industries in Ventura County, California, which is working on a water fuel technology, was rocked by an explosion Thursday at 480 E. Easy Street.

According to the Ventura County Star, authorities were told it was a water-based explosion, and that the company’s work involved extracting hydrogen from water to make fuel.  The company's patent applications relate to equipment and ways to generate energy from fluids such as water that can be used as an alternative fuel source.

Two people in the facility were uninjured, but one person was killed in the blast, which blew a hole in the roof. Initially, three were thought to have been injured.  Authorities are calling the incident an accident.

By coincidence, the Simi Valley police SWAT team was just down the street on a training exercise when the explosion occurred and the officers were able to arrive on the scene within moments and remove the other workers.

Being told that a third person was unaccounted for, putting themselves in harms way, firefighters went in and located the body of the victim in the partially collapsed building.  Fearing for a possible second explosion, and determined there was nothing that could be done for the person, they then backed out to assess what they were dealing with. As a precaution, businesses in a half-mile radius were evacuated.

A subsequent story by the Ventura County Star reported that the victim was Tyson Larson, who died from blunt force injuries, according to Ventura County Medical examiner. He and his co-workers were experimenting with a water-based alternative energy source. The 28-year-old is a family member of the company owner, Tim Larson.  Tyson is listed as one of two inventors on two company patent applications.

About a dozen witnesses, family members and others gathered near the crime tape that blocked off the evacuated area Thursday afternoon. A chaplain also was on hand, the fire department reported. 

Witnesses said they heard a loud boom at around 1:15 pm and saw debris flying from the building. "It [looked like it] took the roof out, the back doors were blown out," said Rod Lavender, a truck driver making a delivery nearby. "It shook the whole truck." 

Another witness, Brian Westerhouse, who was asleep in his truck behind the building when the explosion jolted him awake, and saw debris flying in the air and smoke coming from the building, said it "sounded like a freight train was dropped on the building". "What are they doing in there?"

According to Google News as of Friday evening, over 300 news services had picked up the associated press story about the incident.


Another one of the businesses occupying the building is the Simi Valley branch of the contracting company Servpro, a national company that specializes in cleaning up water-, fire- and smoke-damaged buildings. The office manager said they had 5-10 people in the building at the time of the explosion.

A person I spoke with from that office, who wasn't at the facility at the time of the explosion, confirmed that no on from their office was injured, nor from the affected office, other than the fatality.

Firemen report that in December of 2008 a similar explosion of smaller magnitude took place at the same business.

The explosion is no surprise to New Energy Congress member, Tai Robinson, who often reminds us of the dangers of messing with Brown's Gas.  He points out that the German's call it "boom gas" for a reason.  When you electrolyze water into oxygen and hydrogen and keep it combined, it is in a perfect stoichiometric mixture to recombine with great force.  It's actually fortunate that more people haven't been injured or killed up until now, given the number of people tinkering around with this.