Ex­plo­sives prompt evac­u­a­tion of town

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT -

DOY­LINE, La. — Weather could com­pli­cate the trans­fer of roughly 6 mil­lion pounds of ex­plo­sives that were hap­haz­ardly stored at an in­dus­trial site in north­west­ern Louisiana and led to the evac­u­a­tion of a small town, a state po­lice spokes­woman said Mon­day.

If light­ning is spot­ted within five miles of the site, au­thor­i­ties will sus­pend ef­forts that be­gan Satur­day to move the ar­tillery pro­pel­lant, Lt. Julie Lewis said.

Light rain fell at mid­day in the vicin­ity of the site near the town of Doy­line. No light­ning was ex­pected Mon­day, but thun­der­storms were forecast for Tues­day.

Of­fi­cials es­ti­mate that more than half of Doy­line’s 800 res­i­dents heeded po­lice ad­vice to evac­u­ate in ad­vance of the cleanup at the Ex­plo Sys­tems Inc. site. Col. Mike Ed­mon­son, com­man­der of Louisiana State Po­lice, said the ma­te­rial is sta­ble and would need an ig­ni­tion source to ex­plode. The pre­cau­tions were taken be­cause of­fi­cials fear that any spark could set off a huge ex­plo­sion of the ma­te­rial, which they said was stored im­prop­erly in a rel­a­tively small area.

Ed­mon­son was hes­i­tant to es­ti­mate when it would be safe for Doy­line res­i­dents to re­turn home. He also said state po­lice weren’t sure how much dam­age an ex­plo­sion of the ma­te­rial could cause, even af­ter con­sult­ing with De­part­ment of De­fense of­fi­cials.

Ed­mon­son said that Ex­plo Sys­tems leases and con­trols about 400 acres of the 15,000-acre Camp Min­den, a former am­mu­ni­tion plant that now is a state-owned in­dus­trial site and home to a Na­tional Guard train­ing fa­cil­ity.

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