Cause of Beach Blast in Rhode Island May Never Be Known

A Connecticut woman was thrown 10 feet from her beach chair over the weekend

An unexplained blast on a Rhode Island beach, that threw a Connecticut woman 10 feet from her beach chair into a rock jetty, isn't any closer to being explained.

Officials in Narragansett say they've found no evidence of an explosion on the ground. They dug down and found a National Grid cable line, although that doesn't appear to be involved. A seismic event has also been ruled out. 

"It could be a lot of different things," state police Col. Steven G. O'Donnell says. "We may not have a definitive answer."

Department of Environmental Management spokeswoman Rayna Maguire says the cable used to power a navigational light at the end of the jetty, but is no longer live. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns the jetty and will inspect it.

There's a theory that decaying seaweed under the sand may have become methane, then ignited. University of Rhode Island oceanography professor John King explained that angle to necn affiliate WJAR.

"If you were to put a cigarette out in the sand, that might actually set it off," King said.

Stephen Porder, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University, agreed it could have been a methane explosion, but said that while possible, it was improbable.

This happened on July 11 when Kathleen Danise, 60, of Waterbury was somehow thrown from her beach chair into a rock jetty, and briefly hospitalized.

Rhode Island officials say the U.S. Coast Guard is getting involved in the Salty Brine beach investigation. 

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