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Hill AFB detonation of old rockets causes rumbling in western Weber County

By Tim Vandenack - | Jun 26, 2023

Photo supplied, U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Air Force released this photo in connection with the announcement that a series of detonations to destroy old rocket motors would begin in May 2023 at the Utah Test and Training Range. Many in western Weber County apparently heard one of the blasts on Monday, June 26, 2023.

A loud boom Monday afternoon prompted alarm and questions in western Weber County.

Turns out it was most likely the detonation of old U.S. Navy or Air Force rocket motors, to occur through the summer at the Utah Test and Training Range, or UTTR.

Reps at the National Weather Service office in Salt Lake City caught wind of the reports and delved into the matter. “We have been able to confirm with the Utah Test and Training Range (associated with Hill AFB) on the west edge of the Great Salt Lake that this was a controlled detonation at around 12:45 p.m., not a meteorite,” the agency said in a tweet.

Likewise, Hill Air Force Base on Monday reposted a statement from May on its Facebook page advising the public of the detonation plans. They were to start in May, with perhaps one or two detonations a week through September.

“The detonations — those involving more than 10,000 pounds of net explosive weight — are to destroy old or obsolete Navy and Air Force rocket motors,” reads the statement. It went on: “Since 2012, more than 300 rocket motors have been destroyed at the UTTR, the only permitted place in the United States where this type of work can be done.”

The statement said it delays detonations if atmospheric readings at the time of a planned blast indicate it will be “louder than permitted levels” along the Wasatch Front. It seems Monday’s detonation, however, was heard or felt by plenty of people.

“What just blew up? Whole building just shook,” someone posted on a West Haven, Hooper and Taylor community Facebook page. Numerous people responded, saying they heard or felt something as well.

Detonating the devices “is still the safest and most efficient way of disposing of these motors,” Amanda Burton, spokesperson for the 75th Civil Engineer Group’s Environmental Branch, said in a statement.


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