Live ammunition in burning Box Elder home keeps firefighters hopping

Jan 9 2014 - 6:29am

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Fire at East Promontory
Fire at East Promontory
Fire at East Promontory
Fire at East Promontory
Fire at East Promontory
Fire at East Promontory

PROMONTORY -- No one was home and there were no injuries but a fire here kept firefighters hopping early Wednesday morning as the contents of the home kept exploding.

"Even four or five hours in, we were still hearing explosions, pops," said Box Elder County Fire Marshal Corey Barton. "That can make you a little nervous."

Flammable liquids and ammunition stored in the home kept igniting during the blaze at 895 E. Promontory Road.

The bullets weren't exactly whizzing around, since they were in containers, not gun barrels, he said, so they just exploded in place. But one ammunition can was found with a hole in it, meaning a bullet got out.

"It didn't hit anybody, so that was good," Barton said.

Units from five fire departments responded to the blaze reported at 5 a.m., with fire crews from Thatcher-Penrose, Corinne and Tremonton. 

In addition to the 20 firefighters on scene, Brigham City sent a standby ambulance and Honeyville and Corinne each sent 4,000-gallon water trucks because there was no water system available, Barton said.

The home was fully engulfed when crews arrived at the house 25 miles west of Brigham City.

The last units cleared from the scene by 11 a.m. The occupant renting the house was in a Salt Lake City hospital recovering from surgery since Monday. 

Efforts were assisted when the homeowner arrived from Henefer with a track-hoe, basically a giant back-hoe on military tank-style tracks. The tin roof of the home had collapsed onto the ground floor, covering the burning frame, Barton said.

The track-hoe's claw arm was able to pull out the tin roofing so firefighters could apply water directly.

The nearest home was several hundred yards away, but crews were in a defensive mode keeping the fire from spreading to various outbuildings, plus a large propane tank 30 feet behind the house.

"That was a concern," Tremonton Fire Chief Steve Batis said, noting many of the homes in the area are heated with either propane or electricity. "They had to keep water on it to keep it cool while fighting the fire. It survived."

The 1,200-square-foot building was a total loss with damage estimated at $175,000.

The cause of the fire will be officially listed as undetermined, Barton said, "but our best guess" is a plug-in space heater left on until the power cord overheated. "That's a pretty common fire cause this time of year," he said.

Contact reporter Tim Gurrister at 801-625-4238, tgurrister@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @tgurrister.

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