2010-06-25 / Front Page

Still no official cause of explosion on Easy Street

By Carissa Marsh cmarsh@theacorn.com

A week after an explosion at an alternative fuel business on Easy Street killed a Simi Valley man, authorities are still uncertain about what caused the blast.

Tyson Larson, a 28-year-old inventor working in the lab of his family’s business, Realm Industries, was killed in the explosion.

Cal/OSHA, the state division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is investigating the incident.

“We’re trying to determine exactly what happened to cause the death and if there were health or safety violations,” said Krisann Chasarik, spokesperson for Cal/OSHA.

“All we know is that the victim was conducting research into developing alternative fuels and was processing a fuel mixture when it exploded.”

The incident occurred on June 17 at about 1:15 p.m. The Ventura County Fire Department received multiple calls of an explosion heard and smoke seen in the 400 block of Easy Street, said Fire Capt. Ron Oatman.

Fire trucks and paramedics, as well as all available police units, were dispatched to the scene.

The Simi Valley Police Department’s SWAT team was in the area, performing a training exercise on Easy Street. They were the first to arrive on the scene.

“They were the actual ones who reported it. We didn’t get any 911 calls,” said police Lt. Joe May. “The SWAT team officers heard it, located it, and then they started working on trying to assess the situation, to determine if any rescues needed to be made.”

Oatman said the officers did a preliminary search of the building but were soon relieved by fire crews.

Upon arrival, the responding personnel did not find a fire, but the roof of the fourunit industrial building at 480 E. Easy St. was “partially to totally collapsed,” Oatman said, and glass doors and windows were blown out.

Moorpark resident Diane Hedding and her husband, Karl, own Servpro, a fire and flood restoration company, in a unit in the building that collapsed.

“I thought a plane crashed into it,” she said of the explosion that rattled businesses in the area. “The roof of the building was blown off; debris was flying all over the place.”

Realm Industries experienced a similar incident in December 2008 when a high-pressure tank used to create alternative fuel out of water imploded due to mechanical valve failure. Larson suffered minor to moderate burn injuries as a result of that explosion.

After that incident, the operation moved from its location on N. Shasta Way to a nearby industrial unit on Easy Street.

At the time of last week’s explosion, three people were inside the building. Two were found immediately, uninjured, but the third, Larson, was missing and was presumed to be inside the building.

According to Chasarik, Timothy Larson, the founder of Realm Industries, also called Realm Catalyst, and his two sons, Tyson and Tim, were on site at the time of the accident.

Oatman said a Simi fire crew made an “aggressive” search of the building and found Tyson Larson, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the Ventura County medical examiner’s office, Tyson Larson died of multiple blunt force injuries.

Authorities couldn’t say what caused the blast other than it was a water-based explosion at an alternative fuel business.

Not knowing the cause of the blast, firefighters assumed there was potential for another explosion and evacuated neighboring businesses within a half-mile radius. Simi police officers handled the evacuation by going door to door.

May said that, though the city does have the capability to use Reverse 911 in this situation, the department opted not to send out a recorded telephone message because the evacuation area was small.

“The number of personnel we had on scene could manage the same thing quicker,” he said.

Arroyo Elementary School and nearby homeowners were not evacuated because they were not within the half-mile radius, but police did contact some residents on Aristotle Street in the Greek tract across the wash from the business.

Fire crews left the scene around 7 p.m., Oatman said, and turned the incident over to Simi police, who later turned the investigation over to Cal/OSHA.

Chasarik said these types of cases typically take three to four months to resolve but Cal/OSHA may take up to six months.

Oatman said the fire department is continuing to investigate the incident, which has so far been ruled accidental but undetermined.

An inventor, Tyson Larson applied for a patent in April 2009 for an alternative fuel engine. The application describes a method for converting fluid molecules from a liquid state into a vapor state wherein the fluid has unnatural bond angles. Molecules with unnatural bond angles can be used in engines to power a motorized vehicle, the patent application says.

Tyson Larson graduated from Grace Brethren High School in Simi Valley before getting a degree from UCLA.

“He was just a very smart, intelligent young man with just a brilliant mind and was really doing work from God,” said Corinna Larson, Tyson’s sister-in-law.

A Facebook page set up in his honor named “In Loving Memory of Tyson Lane Larson,” already has 477 members

A recent newlywed, Larson was married to Lindsey Larson, whose maiden name is Dulberg. In a note posted on her Facebook page June 19, Lindsey wrote: “The past few days have been (filled) with amazing amounts of grief and yet this family pulls together to take care of each other. . . . I love you Tyson and I’m lost right now but I know one day I will find my way home to you.”

Calls to the director of Realm Industries were not returned at press time.

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