Ammunition explosion in residential garage injures three Dallas fire fighters
—Official Dallas F. D. photographs
EXPLODING AMMUNITION during a fire is of serious concern to all fire fighters. In most cases this hazard is found in sporting goods or hardware stores and is seldom thought of as any great consequence at residential fires. A recent incident dispelled this idea from the minds of Dallas firemen and resulted in injury to three fire fighters.
On November 15, 1960, at 2:36 a.m., a fire was reported at 2029 Mayflower. Upon arrival it was found that the blaze was in a one-story building, 10 x 14 feet, attached to a double garage and used for storage. The outer walls were of metal lath and plaster. The inner wall next to the garage was of double-thick sheetrock.
Firemen were standing just outside the building .waiting for their lines to become charged when an occupant came out of the house and issued a warning that the building contained some ammunition. Shortly thereafter there was an explosion.
Three firemen were injured by flying objects. One suffered abrasions such as would be made by small shot with the impelling force almost expended; another, a fragmenting piece of metal lodged in the check, which doctors have advised against removing. The most seriously injured received a wound which destroyed most of his spleen. This was from a piece of metal which weighed 2.3625 grams and was 15 millimeters long, 8 millimeters wide and from 1 to 6 millimeters in thickness.
The materials stored in this building included an electric refrigerator, an electric deepfreeze, a 1-gallon glass jug of gasoline, a gallon jug of naphtha, approximately twelve 1-gallon containers of paint, a chest of drawers, a work bench with drawers, several 1-gallon containers of paint thinner, several 1-quart containers of paint, two charcoal grills, a bag of charcoal briquettes, hunting equipment, lanterns, stoves, old clothing and other combustible materials. In addition, a considerable quantity of 30.06 rifle ammunition, a quantity of .38 special pistol ammunition, a quantity of 12gage shotgun ammunition, an unknown quantity of smokeless powder, an unknown quantity of primers, a complete set of reloading equipment and a considerable quantity of storage which could not be identified.
The owner of the property, in addition to being an avid hunter, is a Reserve Army officer and a veteran of World War II and the Korean War. He definitely identified fragmentary pieces recovered by firemen as being from a 60-millimeter mortar shell which was in his garage and used for training purposes. He stated that the high-explosive charge had been removed but that the activating charge remained.