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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

Denver Field Division

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Contact: Lisa Meiman, Public Information Officer

Fire at Explosives Manufacturer Ruled Accidental

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Lands End Fire Protection District have concluded that the July 25 fire at American Pioneer Powder at 1475 Blair Road in Whitewater, Colo., was an accident.

The operator was in the process of producing black powder replacements the afternoon of July 25 when dust particles in the air ignited and caused a flare up, much like a grain silo explosion. Fire then spread through multiple structures. One person suffered injuries that were not life threatening.

Fire and explosives investigators from ATF and members of Lands End examined the scene and interviewed witnesses and first responders through July 26 to reach this conclusion.

“This type of flash ignition is rare, but it happens on occasion in grain silos, sugar mills and other places where fine dust is prevalent and the exact right circumstances occur,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Ken Croke. “I want to thank Lands End Fire Protection District and Grand Junction bomb squad for their invitation, partnership and hospitality during the investigation.”

“The Lands End Fire Protection District would like to thank the following agencies who assisted in this incident: Grand Junction Fire Department Fire Operations, Bomb Squad and Public Information Officer; Mesa County Sheriff’s Office; and Colorado State Patrol,” said Lands End Fire Protection District Chief Brian Lurvey.

ATF is responsible for regulating the explosives industry and investigating fire and most explosives incidents in the country. In fiscal year 2015, there were 10,440 federal explosives licensees and permit holders in the United States, which include importers, manufacturers and explosives dealers. ATF investigated 978 explosives incidents in FY 2015.

Lands End Fire Protection District serves 195 square miles in Eastern Mesa County with volunteers from the community.

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Field Division: Denver Field Division