WEBSTER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton says hazmat experts tell him the underground bunker containing explosives that blew up late Monday night at Camp Minden worked exactly as it was designed to do.
Sexton describes the bunker, in the "L-1 area," as an "igloo," constructed of concrete. He says they were built in the 50s. The underground bunkers are designed to send any blast up instead of out to lessen the shock wave impact. No one was injured.
The force of the explosion was felt across a wide area just before 11:40 p.m. Monday, with reports of people feeling the blast from Minden to Shreveport and well beyond. The explosion site was discovered right at sun-up.
The National Weather Service later issued a statement describing radar imagery showing a debris/smoke plume right around 11:30 p.m. approximately one and one half miles southwest of Dixie Inn, which is where the Camp Minden Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant is located. The NWS says the debris plume drifted northwest at about 10 miles per hour and dissipated after about 30 minutes.
Webster Chief Deputy Bobby Igo says the bunker belongs to a company called Explo Systems, Inc. A news conference was scheduled for 9 a.m. to be held by officials from Explo was pushed to 11 a.m., but that was canceled at the last minute with no explanation given.
When reached by phone, Explo Chief Operations Officer Terri Wright would only say he had no comment. Neither Explo nor authorities have said yet what kind of explosives were stored in the bunker.
State Police, the Webster Parish Sheriff's Office and the military will investigate exactly what caused the explosion.
Webster Sheriff Gary Sexton says there are numerous reports of collateral damage, mostly consisting of broken windows. But he says there has been some structural damage.
Earlier in the morning, Sexton said there was a "possibility that a meteor did hit the ground" in the area, but that theory was put to rest with the confirmation of the blast at the Camp Minden bunker.
The event resulted in a flood of phone calls to the Webster Parish Sheriff's Office, as well as to the KSLA News 12 newsroom.
KSLA News 12 viewer Shana Levick tells us she was driving on I-20 by Dixie Inn when she saw the sky light up a bright orange color. She said she could see what appeared to be small fire sparks above the tree lines.
Callers are also reporting seeing a bright light flash in the sky when they heard the boom.