Party hosts in California and around the country are finding novel ways to ensure that their gatherings become the talk of the neighborhood, but celebrations can quickly become deadly when inexperienced individuals fool around with incendiary devices. The guests at an Iowa gender reveal party learned this painful lesson recently when a device that was designed to hurl pink or blue powder into the air exploded with incredible force.

A 56-year-old woman who was standing 45 feet away when the device went off was killed instantly by a piece of shrapnel that struck her head. The hunk of metal was found by rescue workers 400 feet away in a field. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is helping local authorities to investigate the blast. Initial reports suggest that the party hosts inadvertently built a deadly pipe bomb. The accident took place on Oct. 26 near Des Moines.

The party hosts made the device by placing gunpowder in a stand that had been welded to a metal plate. Holes were the drilled into the side of the homemade stand to allow a fuse to be inserted. A piece of wood was then placed on top of the gunpowder and below the colored powder. Investigators say the fatal mistake the hosts made was sealing the device with tape. This is what turned what was essentially a firework into a deadly bomb.

When their clients have lost loved ones in an accident of this type, experienced personal injury attorneys may seek compensation on their behalf by filing a wrongful death lawsuit based on the common law tort of negligence. Property owners are expected to take reasonable steps to ensure that their visitors and guests are safe, and they can be held financially responsible in civil court when this duty of care is not met.