How to clean up a house fire that contained lots of black powder, ammunition and explosives...


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The Los Angeles City Fire Department found themselves having to set up unmanned monitors, wear bullet proof vests and prove that once again, God looks after fools and firemen...

What appeared to be a common tract home with Conex containers and junk from years of pack ratting also included the types of things that a gun collector / gun show enthusiast would have on hand, and then some. Several containers of blackpowder, 1,000's of rounds of ammunition and other explosives were not set off from the fire. EPA responders during the cleanup phase of this incident stated that it was an absolute miracle that the explosives did not detonate and level the house and responding firefighters.

Hopefully, this below report and link will enable you to be better prepared for this type of incident involving folks who reload and store their own ammunition at home. This type of occurrence may become more and more common in the future.


On May 31, 2009, a fire occurred at commercial ammuntion reloading business located at a residential property in Reseda, California. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The fire originated in a conex box storing a reported 200 pounds of black powder and and an unknown amount of ammuntion.

The fire destroyed 4 conex boxes containing black powder, ammuntion and other reloading supplies.

The fire also destroyed numerous unknown chemical containers on-site.

The fire released a 55 gallon drum of sulfuric acid into the fire suppression water.

The fire was contained to an area approximately 75' x 50' and did not impact the rest of the property which is filled with a large amount of ammunition, reloading supplies and black powder. (Entire Report)

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Well out here in the sticks where everyone either has a gun or has many guns with a ton of ammo you had better watch out for flying projectiles. WE always asume there is ammo, powder or propane tanks in EVERY structre fire we face. Not sure of a good way to deal with it other than watch out, stay low and if you start hearing pops and whistles fall back. Houses can be replaced alot easier than humans. TCSS
I was going to say "stand back and purify the structure by fire" but apparently someone beat me too it.
Ammo will not become a projectile unless it is in a confined area. This includes the chamber of a weapon of in a stack. The brass will expand and the bullet will fall out. The powder will burn off. Shotgun shells are obviously less hazardous due to the plastic shells. Black powder can be a completely different story. Depending on what type of black powder it is will determine the hazard. The NRA did a huge article on this a few years back after doing extensive testing. But as always, better to be safe than sorry.
You are correct J. However 99.99% of the weapons in my area are loaed and scattered throughout the whole house. Not to mention around 1/4 of these same ppl reload there own stuff. TCSS and HAPPY 4TH OF JULY

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