Fireworks weren’t the only explosive devices that were detonated on the Fourth of July.
The Phoenix Fire Department was called July 3 to the scene of an auto repair facility in Phoenix that had been struck by lightning, sparking a fire that lasted from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. July 4.
“During the incident the fire department heard several explosions from inside the structure,” said Capt. Edmund Spivak, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal commander. “Once the fire in the building was subdued, the fire department team saw what looked like a 90 mm high explosive projectile warhead. They immediately backed off, quarantined the area, and called Luke Air Force Base’s EOD team.”
The area surrounding the facility was littered with smoldering wood pallets, wooden cargo crates and dry grass, which had the potential of setting fire to the neighboring wood chipping facility. The Phoenix Fire Department ensured the fire was completely out before the EOD team moved in and manually removed the military ordnance.
Once the EOD team began removing cardboard cylinders from the site they discovered the cylinders housed 90 mm warheads. One cardboard cylinder contained a fully armed 90 mm warhead round and another had severe damage to the casing that had detonated while the building was still burning.
“When any military munitions or firearms are found outside Luke, the base is notified to recover them,” said Staff Sgt. Kristopher Bell, 56th CES EOD technician. “Approximately 128 cases were collected, along with any other evidence, and handed over to the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the local police to figure out why the munitions had been stored in the auto repair facility.”
Once the site was manually cleared, heavy machinery was brought in to move the excess debris. This was a precaution to ensure all military ordnance was recovered from the rubble.
“The one full, highly explosive round originally found by the fire department was transported to Gila Bend for immediate destruction,” Spivak said. “The ruptured casing that exploded was confirmed clear of all explosive hazards and turned over to the Phoenix bomb squad for investigative purposes.”