Homemade fireworks blamed in deadly Garfield Heights home explosion

Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 10:24 PM EDT
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GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) - Investigators with the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s office have determined homemade fireworks likely caused a deadly house explosion that killed three people last month in Garfield Heights.

State investigators believe the explosives were being manufactured inside the home on the 4900 block of East 81st Street.

“They’re homemade fireworks, but these type of devices are actually considered explosives,” said Assistant Chief Ray McCarthy with the state’s Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau. “They’re like your M-80s, M-100s, M-1000s.”

Three victims were removed from the rubble of the home on June 12th.

They were identified as 64-year-old Donald Malinowski, 57-year-old Gerald Bateman, and 37-year-old Cassandra Bateman.

The state findings align with rumors that were circulating throughout the neighborhood that fireworks were being sold out of the home.

“We did have people who wanted to remain anonymous that told us they bought stuff from him,” McCarthy said. “That’s part of our working hypothesis at this point, that he was making them and selling them.”

Investigators said the official cause of the blast will not be officially determined until the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office makes its ruling.

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