It rattled sleeping residents in the middle of an ordinary night, and quickly followed the incident that placed Seaside Park in national headlines. Exhaustive analysis of an October trash can explosion in Barnegat reveals no malicious source and no deliberate cause. What, exactly, triggered it, remains speculation at best.

Garbage can bomb in Barnegat
(Ocean County Prosecutor's Office)

Decomposed organic material triggered the blast, according to an investigator's report to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

It occurred within weeks of the deliberate detonation of a waste container in Seaside Park, leading to speculation of a second homemade bomb, terrorism,pranksters or copycats, and an elevated discussion of soft targets.

The blast occurred on quiet Village Drive at about 1:30 AM on October 13. Investigators said the rubber container was reduced to shards, and debris flew in about a 10-yard radius. There were no injuries or property damage.

Analyst Shoshanna Hayesaha of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that no synthetic materials were involved, though information from the Prosecutor's Office stops short of pinpointing the composition.

Site of Barnegat trash can blast (Ocean Co. Prosecutor's Office)
Site of Barnegat trash can blast (Ocean Co. Prosecutor's Office)

According to Agent Hayesaha, the most likely source is a confluence of rotting mulch, sticks and other organic debris in the enclosed space that developed heat, and ultimately caused an endothermic reaction.

Whether the suspect materials are the kind normally found in public trash cans remains unclear.

The Seaside Park incident, just before a charity race, is tied to an explosion in Manhattan, for which Ahmad Rahimi faces charges in New Jersey and New York.

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