FORT DODGE, Ia. — The girlfriend of a man seriously injured after an explosive device blew up Wednesday evening believes it may not have been an accident.
Around 6:50 p.m. Wednesday, Fort Dodge firefighters and police officers were called to a home in the 800 block of South 16th Street where they found Robert Olson, 43, of Fort Dodge with severe injuries to his left hand, according to Fort Dodge authorities.
Olson, who also sustained burns and other injuries from the blast, was transported to Unity Point Fort Dodge Hospital and then to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. He was in stable condition, Police Capt. Ryan Gruenberg said.
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Joy Ann Stout, 47, who identified herself as Olson’s girlfriend, said she was cleaning her car in the driveway when the explosion took place.
“All I saw at first was black smoke and glass up in the air,” Stout said. “I get out of the car, and I see the blood.”
Stout said Olson’s left hand was so badly injured that doctors had to amputate it.
Special Agent Ron Humphrey with the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s office said Olson has not yet been interviewed as part of the investigation. And police said they don’t yet know how Olson obtained the explosive device.
Stout said Olson, who loves fireworks, described the explosive device like a Roman candle firework.
“Whoever did this ruined his life,” Stout said. “They knew where to set it. They knew where he would see and notice it.”
“From what I know we had no reason to believe it was simply found by Mr. Olson,” Gruenberg wrote in an email. “Now that may have been possible and will likely be verified during the investigation, but I am unaware of any information indicating as such.”
Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter said it was not clear what type of device it was or why it exploded while Olson was handling it.
Gruenberg said Olson could face charges if authorities find that he made the device.
“While his intent may not have been to harm others, there was certainly potential to harm others had they been in the immediate area which would be considered a public safety risk in handling such a device,” Gruenberg said.
There is no threat to the community, authorities said, but the trauma of the explosion will last for Olson, Stout and Stout’s daughter, who also witnessed it.
“It’s permanently embedded in my head … the pain I heard,” Stout said. ”The scariest part about it is, what if my daughter would have picked it up?”
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This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Fort Dodge explosion: Girlfriend said device planted outside home