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Blast blamed on lottery winners' butane and bongs 'shook the whole house'

Updated: 2013-05-08T17:25:24Z

By Tim Potter

The Wichita Eagle

The sound of the explosion and the immediate aftermath were still fresh in Mary Jewett’s memory Monday.

Friday night, she heard “a big boom” next door, followed by someone screaming.

Wichita police said Saturday that the explosion came when two brothers, who were celebrating a $75,000 winning lottery ticket by buying marijuana and meth, accidentally ignited butane in their duplex. The explosion sent one of the brothers, a 27-year-old, to the hospital. Over the weekend, he was in serious but stable condition with second-degree burns on his hands, arms and chest.

By Monday he had been released from the hospital.

On Friday, the other brother was booked into jail on suspicion of drug charges, record show.

Police gave this account Saturday: The brothers were in a duplex in the 100 block of North Nevada Court, near Douglas and West Street. One of the brothers went to refuel butane torches to light bongs and emptied butane lighter fluid. The vapor exploded when it reached a furnace pilot light.

On Monday, Jewett, the duplex neighbor, recalled that the blast “shook the whole house.” She thought she heard someone yell, “Get out!” She saw smoke coming from her neighbors’ door.

Police officials, who weren’t available for an update on the incident Monday because of the holiday, said the victim’s girlfriend loaded him and some children into a car and took him to Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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