Skip to comments.UPDATE: Legislator's Wife Injured in Home Explosion
Posted on 10/01/2012 9:10:46 AM PDT by marktwain
An Idaho state representatives wife was injured Saturday after a room converted to a gun safe exploded at her home.
Amy Wood, wife of Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, was taken by air ambulance to an unspecified Utah hospital suffering from second-degree burns to her face and hands.
The incident occurred at 8:11 p.m., according to Burley Fire Chief Keith Martin. On Saturday evening, Martin said the owners of the home at 100 S. 147 E. were eating dinner when they heard a sound like a 747 coming from the basement.
Gunpowder is safer to store than gasoline or propane.
When I say the gun powder was “set off”, I mean ignited. It is difficult to obtain an actual explosion from modern gunpowder. It is designed, to just burn very rapidly.
If the gases from the burning are contained, you can get a very low level explosion, similar to that of a propane explosion.
A gas leak is generally the cause of home explosions.
The most dangerous thing for storing ammunition is the age of the ammo, how it was loaded (reloaded), and what the humidity in storage is.
I keep a dehumidifier running 24 hours a day in my basement, and I don’t even reload. I also keep my ammo in fireproof file safes and inspect regularly for corrosion, etc.....
I have about 500 left of 600 rounds of WCC 42 45 ACP ball ammo that is circa US 1942 that I’ve been watching...recently went to the range and shot 100 rounds flawlessly (only trouble is the propellant is corrosive and the gun needs to be cleaned very well afterwards....)
“It is designed, to just burn very rapidly.”
It is designed to burn very rapidly, rather than to detonate. Modern gunpowders are propellants, not explosives.
Reloading/powder was my first thought too just seeing the headline. The burns to the hands and face are certainly suggestive: whatever did the burning was something she was handling and interested in.
Whatever happened, there was almost certainly some degree of negligence involved. I just hope it wasn’t so bad as checking how much 4985 is left in the jug by using a match as a light source...
An alternate method is to store your ammo in zip-lock bags, in a surplus steel ammo can with good rubber seals. If you store your ammo away in winter when in-house humidity is low, then it should keep for a while.
If it was gunpowder stored in cans and you had an initial flash fire from powder in the open the heat might cause the cans to cook off and explode or burn like a flaming fountain, maybe with a “747” roar.
The exploding room had probably been in cahoots with an evil SUV.
They'll spin it as bomb making gone wrong in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...
There are three separate issues in your statement.
From what I have read, age produces little degradation if the ammunition is stored in a cool, dry place.
How the ammunition was reloaded can be critical for how safe the ammunition is, but that is the safety of the ammunition, which is a related by separate issue, IMHO.
Humidity is very important, but it does not make the ammunition more dangerous, just less reliable.
Heat, humidity, and petroleum products seem to be the biggest enemies of ammuniton for long term storage.
I do not recall anything about long term storage of conventional ammunition that would make it subject to detonation.
This is common with the storage of dynamite, where the nitroglycerin in the dynamite slowly separates form the filler and creates an incredibly dangerous situation. The nitroglycerin can be set off very easily by friction or shock.
IMHO, small arms ammunition is far less dangerous to store than gasoline or propane.
That’s the way I’d do it if I didn’t have the dehumidfier....
You have to consider a whole range of things. How corrosive is the propellant? Were the primers sealed/coated? (Humidity can degrade coatings.)
Have the primers bulged? Is is a Berdan or Boxer primer?
Storing ammo with leather and copper can cause the copper to corrode. Acid or veg tanning in the leather can give that green patina very very quickly...I have several examples of this. Storing ammo in a leather cartridge belt or pouch isn’t a good idea, no matter what the tanning process.
Lastly, I don’t store dynamite so I don’t know...I only know about the rounds I have from 1942 and some from before that and what I’ve seen over 30 years of storage. The best thing I did was cool dry basement and the humidifiers...
I’m a little confused here. The owners were eating dinner. This wasn’t her home. There must be more to this story.
It’s poorly written. I think it was her home.
Water heater maybe?
I’m surprised it wasn’t Keith Ellison’s (M-Minn) wife...
Can only say; despite the misfire - so to speak - wish continue 'power' to Rep. Wood and his family; and do hope his wife is 'okay'. . .
I hope people are suggesting that powder spontaneously combusts.
I forgot the the "not." :(
Real black powder can be sensitive to shock or crushing especially if old.
Poorly written indeed. I even went to the site and read it. That never helped.
A standalone water heater that "explodes" usually breaks at the bottom, creating a missile fully capable of going through a couple of floors and a roof.
The Mythbusters did a piece on it. The invention of the pressure relief valve probably saved thousands of lives of homeowners alone, not to mention some subset of pedestrians once the water heaters came back down.
Most likely a gas explosion.
Probably a gradual heat buildup by something else burning in a closed room and slowly increasing the room temperature to enough of an extreme. Enough cartridges popping at once could make a funny roar in a nearby room instead of distinct pops. Ammunition storage should be ventilated at least a little to avoid tight containment of pressure.
Avoid storing that stuff in a space shared with a flame (water heater, lights, electrical appliances without circuit covers, etc.). For outbuildings (e.g., shop), build a tough steel cabinet with steel doors that are *not* airtight for small amounts of ammunition and/or handloading supplies (capped top vent preferred). Build another one for paints, solvents, etc. Isolate far from welding rigs, heaters and the like.
Take it from military practices. Any who store very much ammunition (common for some competitors or anyone who like to fire unusually large amounts of ammunition) would be better off building a safer, ventilated (e.g., capped pipe on top), concrete box for it outdoors and in the ground. Ammunition can be sealed in airtight containers that won’t contain combustion too much (plastics, very thin metals, etc.). Same for anyone who stores much fuel. I don’t need to store much of either (not a match competitor for now and don’t use much fuel around the place) but would build safer, separate, outdoor facilities for it, if I did.
Ammunition won’t “blow up” much, if it’s not tightly and heavily sealed, although large quantities of it burning can cause burns, scare fire-persons, etc. (heh, heh...”firepersons” instead of “firefighters”).
1. Modern gnpowder burns slowly if set on fire with a match and not enclosed in a breech. The higher the pressure in the breech, the faster it burns and releases gas.
At atmosperic pressure it burns rather slowly.
A bullet that cooks off in a fire will travel about ten feet and bouce off of you skin. The amount of pressure required to remove a bullet from a cartidge case is about 60 lbs.
Age seems to have little effect on ammo.
Any problems with age and how ammo is stored will result in a failure to fire rather than a bigger explosion.
Blackpowder is not effected by by age whatsoever. 200 or 300 year old black powder is as manufactured. There are a number of cases in which very old black powder was tested and it was found to be the same as the day it was manufactured.
If black powder is wet it can be dried out and used without any problems.
A number of companies have tried to develop electrically fired black powder guns and static electricity is not sufficient to set it off because black powder is electrically conductive and it absorbs the charge like a sponge. I have seen test results with 40,000 volts (it will burn you) of static electricity and the results are nothing. Nada.
The problem with dynamite is only with very old dynamite, 1900 or so. The newer stuff is quite stable.
We agree on nearly everything. I have seen corrosion caused by leather. Often leather has lots of salts in the tanning process.
I think it is worth diferentiating between the degradation of ammunition and the potential for detonation.
It is my educated opinion that modern propellants will only detonate if they are improperly stored in a strong pressure vessel.
Excellent post, thank you.
TNT and mercury fulminate probably aren’t so stable with age.
I made some electrically fired muzzle-loaders 30 years ago.
The amateurs are easy to spot. The first clue is when they describe cartridges as "bullets", but the most revealing are those that use incorrect cartridge designations. They are happy to use layman invented cartridge names or one that has been obsolete since prior to World War II.
But then, their entire 'education' about ammunition and guns was acquired by reading the gun magazines. Little do they know that the gun writers educated themselves by reading each other's tripe. Ignorance is bliss.
TNT hasn’t been used for almost 100 years.
Amytol is its replacement, and it is stable.
Yes, I’ve seen both of their shows on water heater explosions.
The steam will quickly burn any exposed skin.
“Martin said the explosion from the room lifted up the patio slab at the back of the home and collapsed the patio roof. Martin said the patio slab appeared to be the roof of the gun safe room. Amy Wood was on the patio when the explosion occurred.”
So, she apparently had nothing to do with the cause of the explosion.
“Amy Wood was on the back patio, which sits directly over the weapons room. When the room exploded, the concrete slab she was standing on collapsed into the gun safe below. “
So why don’t they add steel wool shavings as a booster? It seems that bridge the gap.
It seems that would bridge the gap rather.
“If you add a bit of amperage to the voltage you can electrically set off black powder easily.”
How much would you step amperage? The test I saw had a ovlt rating but no amperage. The tool used to generate the static electricity is used to test neon lights for leaks and it look impressive as heck.
The current from 4 AA batteries was plenty and was quite reliable, until the corrosion from the black powder weakened the glow plug.
Ignition occurred in some fraction of a second. I would guess maybe .25 to .5 seconds.
Spontaneous combustion of oily rags and cleaning solvents on the rags:
Lawmaker’s gun room explosion likely ‘spontaneous combustion’