Town Evacuated Over Disturbing Find - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Town Evacuated Over Disturbing Find

Posted: Updated:

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A town in northwest Louisiana was being evacuated and state police were starting a criminal investigation of a company after finding about 6 million pounds of explosive material used in howitzers they say was stored illegally.

Boxes and small barrels of the M6 artillery propellant were found both outdoors and crammed into unauthorized buildings leased by Explo Systems Inc. at Camp Minden, the former Louisiana Army Ammunitions Plant, state police superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said Sunday.

Police were evacuating the town of Doyline, about 270 miles northwest of New Orleans. About half the town's 800 residents left Friday.

The company's "careless and reckless disregard made it unsafe for their own employees, for schoolchildren in Doyline, for the town of Doyline," Edmonson said.

The company is located on a portion of the former ammunition plant's 15,000 acres that is leased for commercial use. Other sections are used for National Guard training.

Capt. Doug Cain, a state police spokesman, identified the product as M6 propellant, used in howitzers and other artillery. The pellets are largely compressed nitrocellulose, also known as guncotton.

Authorities had initially estimated the total at 1 million pounds after an investigator looking into an Oct. 15 explosion at Explo Systems saw cardboard boxes on long rows of pallets behind a building. They found more stacked in sheds and warehouses when crews returned Saturday to begin moving the boxes into bunkers about two miles away on the former munitions site, which covers nearly 23.5 square miles just north of Doyline.

"It wasn't in their storage magazines. They had it hidden on the property, away from the storage magazines where we would expect to find it," Cain said.

Edmonson said, "It was stuffed in corners. It was stacked all over."

He said that in two days, crews have moved just under a million pounds from the tightest-packed buildings into approved containers and onto 27 tractor-trailers to move to storage bunkers. Another 250,000 pounds has been moved a safe distance from the bulk of the material.

It won't all have to be moved into bunkers to let people return home — the evacuation could be lifted once the propellant is divided into amounts that won't threaten the town if some ignites, with each area a safe distance from the others, Edmonson said.

Company officials could not be reached Sunday. The owners reportedly are returning Monday from a business trip to South Korea, but the manager has been working with state police from the start, Edmonson said.

Doyline was used to film some scenes for the HBO vampire series "True Blood."

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • UPDATE: High Drive brush fire now 100% contained

    UPDATE: High Drive brush fire now 100% contained

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:42 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:42:03 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash.- On Monday afternoon a brush fire broke out on the west side of Spokane's South Hill. The fire, which broke out around 3pm, was burning on the hill between High Drive and Qualchan Golf Course. By 9pm Monday night the fire was 100% contained. This does not necessarily mean the fire is totally out, but that crews are confident it won't spread and will be out soon.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash.- On Monday afternoon a brush fire broke out on the west side of Spokane's South Hill. The fire, which broke out around 3pm, was burning on the hill between High Drive and Qualchan Golf Course. By 9pm Monday night the fire was 100% contained. This does not necessarily mean the fire is totally out, but that crews are confident it won't spread and will be out soon.>>
  • PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    Saturday, July 26 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-07-26 04:07:59 GMT
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
  • 44 Riverside homes destroyed or damaged in storm

    44 Riverside homes destroyed or damaged in storm

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:46 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:46:53 GMT
    RIVERSIDE, Wash. - Many families were still at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Riverside High School in Riverside this morning.An afternoon storm destroyed or damaged 44 of their homes and knocked down close to 100 trees in Riverside Village Mobile Home Park.Many residents said the storm looked like a tornado as it swept through their neighborhood.>>
    RIVERSIDE, Wash. - Many families were still at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Riverside High School in Riverside this morning.An afternoon storm destroyed or damaged 44 of their homes and knocked down close to 100 trees in Riverside Village Mobile Home Park.Many residents said the storm looked like a tornado as it swept through their neighborhood.>>