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Waterbury woman injured in unexplained beach blast

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Credit: myfoxboston.com

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – Salty Brine Beach in Narragansett, Rhode Island, has reopened a day after an unexplained blast knocked a beachgoer to the ground but investigators concluded there was no public threat.

State Department of Environmental Management spokeswoman Rayna Maguire said the beach was open again Sunday but said there was no new information on the cause.

State police Col. Steven O’Donnell said Saturday night the investigation found no evidence an explosive device caused the loud boom heard by people on the beach.

The beach was evacuated Saturday morning after witnesses reported a possible explosion. A woman sitting in a chair at the tideline was knocked into an adjacent rock breakwater.

The woman was taken to South County Hospital in Wakefield and officials say she was conscious and alert.

The woman has been identified by police as Kathleen Danise, of Waterbury, Connecticut. She is 60 years old, according to her sister Laura Demartino who told WPRI that she was released from the hospital Sunday and was heading home to Connecticut.

“We believe there had been a small explosion, sub-surface, that erupted out of the sand and virtually caused one of our beach patrons to ultimately fall backwards and forwards” and land on the rocks of the jetty, Larry Mouradjian of the state department of environmental management said at a press conference, reported CNN affiliate WPRI.

The state bomb squad and the state fire marshal’s office are investigating, along with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Mario Lewis of West Greenwich told the Providence Journal he was collecting crabs when heard what appeared to be an explosion that knocked over a woman about 3 feet from him.

“It was like an M-80 boom, like a grenade,” he said. Lewis said he didn’t notice any smoke or debris.

Mouradjian said he examined the blast site and described it as “something you’d see when lightning hits the beach. There’s definitely something that happened there.”

“The person was sitting in a chair up against the breakwater at the tide line,” he said. “The sand directly in front of her basically erupted. They heard a loud noise. Weren’t sure exactly what it was. A force ultimately pushed this person up against the rocks and then forward and falling into the sand.”

Heavy equipment was brought in to preserve the sand at the blast site for investigators before the tide rose, he said.

The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.