Bear Spray Explosion

Firefighters gather outside a home where a can of bear spray exploded after being left in a preheating oven Tuesday in Bozeman.

The Bozeman Fire Department responded to the scene of a reported explosion Tuesday afternoon that turned out to be a can of bear spray that had been left in a warming oven.

There were no flames when three fire engines responded to the residence on Annie Street, according to Graver Johnson, battalion chief with the department. Firefighters investigated the incident and used fans to air out the condo that had been filled with bear spray.

No one was injured, but residents of the home evacuated while it was aired out. The can exploded in the oven as it was preheating. It’s unclear why the can was in the oven.

Three young men who live at the residence declined comment.

Johnson said that when the 911 call came in, it sounded like the structure had caught fire, so the department treated it as such and deployed three fire engines. But that wasn’t the case.

“It wasn’t malicious, and it was confined to the oven so we vented the house and then it was turned back over to the residents,” Johnson said.

According to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website, bear spray has been known to explode when stored in hot cars in the summer. The agency suggests storing it in mild temperatures as both extreme heat and cold can affect the spray.

Bear spray contains capsaicin, the chemical found in hot peppers, and other capsaicinoids. It’s meant to ward off charging bears or other dangerous animals. FWP says the effects of bear spray, which can affect the eyes, lungs, and skin, can last 30 to 45 minutes.

Shaylee Ragar can be reached at or at 582-2607.

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