Investigation into Rhode Island beach explosion ‘back at square one’

Kathleen Danise didn’t know what hit her.

“The last thing I remember was reading my book,’’ the Connecticut woman told WTNH.

According to Danise’s sister, the 60-year-old was launched from her chair “like a human cannon’’ by an explosion Saturday at Rhode Island’s Salty Brine State Beach in Narragansett.

And as of Monday night, investigators don’t know what hit Danise, either.

State and National Grid officials found and cut a power line that ran under the beach toward the ocean on Monday. However, there was no indication the line had any association with Saturday’s explosion, according to National Grid spokesman David Graves.

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Graves told Boston.com what was clear was that it was not a National Grid power line, and also said the company does not normally run power lines under the beach.

Neither Graves nor the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said Monday they knew who the line belonged to.

ABC6 reporter Ana Bottary tweeted photos of the power line in question Monday evening.

Graves pointed out that the line ran parallel to the breachway towards a light that directs boats in and out of the harbor. Though the light is now solar-powered, Graves said, it could be possible the line once was a source of power.

As for the cause of the explosion though, who knows.

Danise was treated at Rhode Island Hospital on Sunday for a severe concussion and two fractured ribs, according to WPRI.

Graves described the incident as stupefying.

Witnesses told the Providence Journal they smelled a “chemical smell, perhaps sulphur or butane’’ following the explosion.

But Rayna Maguire, assistant to the director of the Rhode Island DEM, told Boston.com on Monday the explosion didn’t seem to be caused by any underground cable, nor by an explosive device

State fire marshals led the investigation, assisted by a bomb squad, sweeping the sand with bomb-sniffing dogs and chemical wipes for explosive materials, but all testing turned up negative.

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“There continues to be no evidence of a malicious attack or use of a device of any kind,’’ said a Rhode Island DEM press release, which added that Salty Brine remains open to the public.

According to Maguire, it’s “back to square one.’’

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