A 65-year-old ex-felon was arrested in Princeton Friday after
allegedly blowing up a stockpile of gunpowder with a propane torch that
the man used to smoke methamphetamine, according to the San Mateo
County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies received a report of a fire in the neighborhood of
Harvard and Columbia streets in Princeton, on the San Mateo County
coast, just before 4 p.m. Friday. When they arrived, deputies found the
fire was coming from a commercial storage yard on the 200 block of Yale
Avenue where a camper was illegally being used as a residence. Cal Fire
arrived at the scene and extinguished the blaze, according to the
The man, John Blanchard, was allegedly smoking crystal meth at
the storage yard near his camper when he left a propane torch ignited
on the ground, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The torch flame lit a container of gunpowder Blanchard was apparently stockpiling, causing an explosion.
A loaded rifle was recovered from the scene as was more
gunpowder and 300 feet of detonation cord found in an open safe,
according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The fire investigation discovered numerous hazardous, illegal materials and a variety of health and safety code violations.
Blanchard was arrested for being under the influence of
methamphetamine, negligently starting a fire, being a felon in
possession of a loaded firearm and being in possession of over a pound
of explosive detonation cord. Blanchard was subsequently booked into
county jail without incident, according to the Sheriff’s Office.