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Cause of fatal Bronx blast to be known by midweek, officials say

Emergency service personnel work at the scene of

Emergency service personnel work at the scene of a house explosion, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016, in the Bronx. Photo Credit: AP / Mary Altaffer

Police expect to pinpoint by the middle of next week the exact cause of Tuesday’s gas explosion in the Bronx that took the life of FDNY Battalion Chief Michael Fahy, officials said.

“We have a lot of work to do in the next few days,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told reporters Friday. Police believe the building was used as a place to grow marijuana.

Because of Fahy’s death, police and prosecutors in the Bronx are looking to see whether homicide charges are warranted, officials said.

Police have already recovered gas equipment and pipes in the house at 300 W. 234th Street in the Kingsbridge section and will be sending the materials to a federal laboratory in Maryland for forensic analysis, Boyce said. But police also will be digging up the gas lines in the street as part of the review, he said.

“Obviously gas was involved,” Boyce said about the explosion that killed Fahy at what police said was a marijuana growing house. Officials said that many marijuana plants, liquid fertilizer and what Boyce called “botanical substances” were found in the remains of the destroyed two-story dwelling.

On Tuesday, Commissioner James O’Neill told a new class of NYPD academy graduates that a gas leak sparked the explosion. But Boyce indicated that it was still unclear whether the blast was caused by a manipulation of or tampering with the gas lines.

“Figure sometime midweek, next week, we will have it,” Boyce said about the cause.

Meanwhile on Friday, a second man was formally charged with running the marijuana growing operation at the house. Julio Salcedo, 34, appeared in Bronx Criminal Court after being extradited from New Jersey on an unrelated case.

On Thursday, Garivaldi Castillo, 33, was ordered held without bail after he was charged with felony marijuana possession. Investigators suspect Castillo was in charge of the growing facility. Officials also disclosed in Castillo’s case there could be homicide charges, depending on the result of the investigation into the gas explosion.

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