At 11:37 a.m. on June 25, an explosion rocked the 100 block of Pinion Street. Mineral County Dispatch said homes as far as 4 blocks from the site reported the blast to 911.
Mineral County Sheriff’s Department and other emergency personnel responded to the scene. “We made contact with the homeowner and he readily admitted he had inadvertently mixed some chemicals that had not reacted well with each other.” said Sheriff Stewart Handte.
When local emergency services personnel first entered the premises, they realized the need for expert help to assess the situation. “When we got into the house and garage area, we realized there were lots of very potent chemical components. Experts over the phone told us that if the chemicals at the residence exploded, it would result in a blast area radius of over 100 meters,” Handte said.
The crew backed out of the residence and evacuated the neighborhood. The sheriff’s department also contacted Search and Rescue, the fire departments of Mineral County, Securing Our Country and Walker Lake.
Emergency units set up command post at the corner of Pinion and Fir streets. “As soon as we got established, we contacted Fallon Explosive Ordinance Disposal. They stabilized the garage area which was the major area of concern that they had in terms of chemical components,” Handte said.
The EOD personnel, after using a robot before entering the area, eventually determined the chemical components as binary. That is, harmless by themselves, but deadly explosives if combined.
“Binary in containers, is it smart? No, not unless you are in a specific type of area. That specific safe area is not a residential area,” Handte said.
The EOD personnel took samples of the chemicals and police secured the residence. The state fire marshal arrived the following day and he, Handte, the fire chief T.C. Knight and other county officials determined the residence owner did not commit a criminal act.
Handte said county law enforcement and fire department officials did order the owner of the residence to remove any components or devices associated with pyrotechnics or rockets from the residence within 30 days.
County officials also told the residence owner he could probably find an area zoned for his hobby and continue to pursue it without fear of repercussions.
Handte said the residence owner is generally very safety conscious, but even the most safety conscious people make errors. “If this had went off in the garage, it could have went very, very badly. This is for his safety, and of course, the safety of others,” Handte said.