Dangerous Find Of Century Old Blasting Caps In Amador
Amador County, CA – A surprise find earlier this month while contractors were demolishing a building in Amador County – over a century old blasting caps.
Called in to assist with securing the around 2,500 caps discovered on March 9th at an undisclosed location in Plymouth was the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team (EOD). Sgt. Greg Stark detailed the blasting caps date back to 1918 and “had deteriorated to a possibly unstable state.”
After marking off a safe perimeter, EOD members carefully moved the blasting caps into a bomb explosive trailer and taken to a rural location for disposal. That required using explosives in what is referred to as a countercharge. Sgt. Stark reports that over two days, the team used 17 countercharges to detonate the blasting caps.
Noting that luckily no one was injured in this incident, the EOD team warns that all explosives should be considered dangerous especially ones that are old and showing signs of deterioration. With the historical mining past of the Mother Lode, they offer these safety tips if the public uncovers explosive items, as even one blasting cap can cause serious injury or death if mishandled.
- Do not pick up or handle any blasting caps! This also applies to tins or other containers used to store blasting caps as the friction caused by opening the tin could cause detonation. Fuse caps contain explosives like mercury fulminate, lead azide, and lead styphnate. Fuse caps are usually small metal tubes 1” – 2” in length and approximately ¼” in diameter. Fuse caps can detonate if subjected to heat, shock, or static electricity. Old fuse caps with crystallization (deterioration) are very dangerous.
- Electric blasting caps are similar to fuse caps, except they have two insulated electric wires attached to one end. Electric blasting caps can be detonated due to heat, shock, static electricity, radio frequencies, and electromagnetic radiation.
- Non-El blasting caps are safer than either fuse caps or electric blasting caps and are crimped to flash tubing.
- Stay back! Clear the area of anyone nearby.
- If you discover anything you suspect to be blasting caps or explosives, call 911.