San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies investigating a small fire in a coastal storage yard on Friday afternoon allegedly found a felon living in an illegal residence with explosives, detonation cord, evidence of drug activity and a loaded rifle. Deputies responded to a report of fire in a commercial yard in the 200 block of Yale Avenue in the community of Princeton at about 3:55 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office. Arriving officers found a small fire near a camper that was illegally being used as a residence in a commercial zone. Cal Fire firefighters put out the flames. John Blanchard, 65, of Princeton, was living in the camper. The fire appeared to have been started by a propane blowtorch, which the sheriff’s office said was left unattended after being used to smoke methamphetamine. The open flame caused a nearby container of gunpowder to explode. Investigators found a loaded rifle, a container of black powder, a propane torch with an exploded cylinder and an open safe containing more than 300 feet of detonation cable. 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 more than a pound of explosive detonation cord. He was booked into San Mateo County Jail without incident.
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