Two people found dead in Wisconsin earlier this month were accidentally electrocuted while attempting to create art using a dangerous wood-burning technique popularized on .
An investigation into the deaths of Tanya Rodriguez, 44, and James Carolfi, 52, found the couple had died by accidental electrocution while trying fractal wood burning, an art method where high voltage electricity is used to create a pattern on chemical-soaked wood.
While trying out the technique on April 6 the couple were electrocuted to death before their garage went up in flames. The fire then spread to the rest of their home, officials in County said.
First responders initially thought their deaths may have been ‘foul play’ prompting police to launch a murder investigation.
Through a forensic examination, Sheriff Deputy Chad Billeb said they were able to determine the couple had died before the fire broke out.
‘Due to the nature of this incident and the substantial damage caused by the fire, it was incredibly difficult to determine the causes of death and series of events,’ Billeb said during an April 21 press conference.
‘Foul play has been ruled out and the deaths are believed to be accidental in nature,’ he added.
At least 33 people have died as a result of fractal burning, according to the American Association of Woodturners.
Fractal wood burning has become a popular art method from social media sites like TikTok, where artists can be seen burning ‘tree-like patterns into wood,’ the sheriff’s office said.
‘The Marathon County Sheriff’s Office wishes to alert citizens of the dangers of fractal wood burning, an art form that has gained popularity on social media sites such as TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube,’ the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
‘The fractal burning process typically uses a high-voltage transformer, often repurposed from a microwave oven, to flow current across wood items that have been soaked with a chemical solution. This process is highly dangerous and should only be done by trained professionals,’ they said.
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