HURRICANE – When an excavator unearthed possible evidence of undetonated commercial explosives on the lot he was clearing in Hurricane Monday, the Washington County Bomb Squad was called in to assess the situation.
A man clearing a lot at 59 Pioneer Way in Harrisburg Estates uncovered what appeared to be blasting wires coming out of a hole in the ground, which led him to believe the wires may be attached to explosives, Hurricane Police Sgt. Brandon Buell said.
Police were contacted and dispatched to the scene at about 8:47 a.m.
“(They) saw items consistent with what the excavator had described,” Buell said. “In looking at them, (officers) realized there could be explosive material down in the hole … and due to the nature of that, contacted the Washington County Bomb Squad.”
The bomb squad, which consists of police officers from multiple agencies, arrived on the scene at about 10 a.m.
Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. Nate Brooksby, bomb squad commander, said the site looked like an abandoned commercial blasting hole.
“Typically, with commercial blasting, they’ll drill a hole, put in their explosives in there, and sometimes that doesn’t go off. It appears to be the case here,” Brooksby said.
Due to the hole being drilled into solid rock, he said, the bomb squad had some difficulty getting to the undetonated explosives. A lot of dirt and rock had to be removed before they could safely get to the explosives, and the bomb squad had to use “some creative thinking” in order to remove the dirt and rock, Brooksby said.
From a distance, it appeared one of the bomb squad members was using a wet/dry vacuum to suck dirt out of the hole.
“It appears that this explosive material has been in this location for several years,” a press statement released by the Hurricane City Police Department Monday evening said. “There was a large amount of debris in the hole on top of it. We are unsure at this time how something like this was left in this location.”
“The bomb squad worked meticulously to identify what hazard they were dealing with and how to dispose of it,” the statement went on to say. “This is a process that can’t be rushed, we need to make sure we do this as safely as possible for the officers and the (residents).”
Dealing with clearing out the hole in the midst of scattered but light rainfall, the bomb squad eventually removed the explosive materials and detonated them nearby, yet safely away from residences.
The operation wrapped up at about 2 p.m.
Units from Hurricane Valley Fire and Ambulance also responded to the scene and were staged nearby as a precautionary measure, the statement said.
No evacuations were necessary in this case, and responders thanked residents for their cooperation in the matter.
Many of the nearby residents either watched from far off or simply stayed in their homes during the operation.
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