Carbon County Hazardous Materials Team Officers along with members of the Utah County Bomb Squad detonated six blasting caps Monday evening in Helper after being alerted to the explosive material by a woman cleaning out her deceased father's home.
According to Carbon County Emergency Service's Director Director Jason Llewelyn, the HAZMAT team was alerted by Carbon County Dispatch to the explosives found in downtown Helper at around 3 p.m.
Llewelyn contacted Helper City Police Chief Trent Anderson, and the officers investigated the home, finding what they thought to be 30-year-old blasting caps, decaying in a small box.
"There was definitely enough material there to be fatal to any number of individuals," said Llewelyn. "Those caps could be described as having the destructive force of one or two sticks of dynamite."
While the Carbon County team is trained and certified to handle explosives, Llewelyn decided to play it safe and called in the bomb squad from Utah County.
"In a situation where there isn't any immediate threat, there's no reason to put our officers in danger," he said. "The bomb squad possess equipment that we just don't have here in Carbon County."
Upon arrival, the Utah County team used a robot to inspect the caps before suiting up one of their technicians in a $250,000 protective suit. Anyone who has seen the film, "The Hurt Locker," knows what these armor plated units are like.
According to Llewelyn, the suit weighs more than 100 lbs. and is extremely hot to wear. After gearing up, the Utah County officer entered the home and picked up the caps. He then placed them in a protective metal case which has a trampoline-like bottom, and removed them from the residence without incident.
It is the practice of law enforcement across the nation to detonate found explosives rather than to transport them over any significant distance. Using what was available, the HAZMAT team and bomb squad moved the explosives to some dirt mounds near the Helper Cemetery which were recently created because of the town's ongoing infrastructure project.
The material was packed into soft dirt and detonated remotely with an explosive charge, said Llewelyn.
Besides the additional phone traffic taken by Carbon County Dispatch following the boom, no problems were caused by the detonation which took place around 7 p.m.