10/13/17 — 'Fire in the hole'

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'Fire in the hole'

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on October 13, 2017 5:50 AM

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Members of the Seymour Johnson Explosive Ordnance Disposal team work to develop a plan to detonate explosives found on Ebenezer Church Road Thursday. The explosives were moved to a site where they would be safer to detonate.

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians are working with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office to detonate 50 pounds of explosives found earlier Thursday.

A person found the explosives in a shed behind a residence at 250 Ebenezer Church Road.

They called the Sheriff's Office, who then requested the assistance of the base's disposal team.

Tech Sgt. Derek Horn said the explosives were less volatile than dynamite and are binary ditch explosives used to blow up beaver dams and clear fields.

Once the explosives were carried out of the shed, they were taken to a gun range off of Old Mount Olive Highway.

The explosives were initially taken down a path behind a building on the property, approximately 450 feet from the structure.

This placed the explosives tucked behind the woodline, out of the line of sight.

Technicians then advised law enforcement that if they detonated the explosives where they were, they ran the risk of shattering the windows of the building from the blast.

After making several phone calls and researching further, the technicians decided to mitigate the magnitude of the explosion by mixing it with water.

They did this by emptying the white powdery substance in the small, cylindrical containers into a green metal container filled with water and then dumping the mixture into the woods.

This lessened the total amount of the substance they had to detonate.

While several technicians did this, others went back into a different spot in the woods and dug a hole to place the remainder of the explosives in.

When this process was completed, law enforcement and military personnel cleared the area, heading back up toward Old Mount Olive Highway, stopping on the gravel path just after the entrance to the range.

After yelling "fire in the hole," the explosives were detonated with two separate charges in two separate events.

A man on his lawnmower in his backyard just off the highway did not flinch when the loud boom announced the detonation of the material.

This is not the first time the base's team has been called to assist law enforcement in disposing of explosives people have found in barns and sheds.

The squad was called out in November and December 2016, both times to detonate dynamite found in a barn.

Horn said it is always a pleasure to work with Wayne County law enforcement to safely dispose of explosives found by citizens.