Louisiana National Guard has issued a statement Friday on Camp Minden's Monday night explosions and 7000 feet mushroom cloud, but Hazardous Materials Unit in Baton Rouge and others investigating could take months before determining the cause, officials said Friday about the area that will remain off-limits until after completing cleanup.
Below is a statement released Friday by the Louisiana National Guard about the explosion at Camp Minden just before midnight Monday.
On Monday night the Camp Minden post security heard a loud sound which could have been a possible explosion. Subsequently, the post security physically surveyed the camp in accordance with established protocols and conferred with contractor tenants who stated that they were not able to confirm the origination of the sound.
Upon daylight on Tuesday morning, a Camp Minden tenant organization, Explo Inc., discovered that one of their storage areas had exploded and reported the incident to the Louisiana National Guard. Following this report, the Louisiana National Guard notified local authorities and the Louisiana State Police of the explosion in accordance with standard protocol.
The substance that exploded was a smokeless powder and does not pose a threat outside of Camp Minden. Explo is currently conducting clean-up operations of the site. The incident is under investigation by the LSP. The incident area is a restricted area and will remain off limits to anyone other than authorized individuals due to normal operational security and safety requirements.
Multiple witnesses have reported seeing bright objects with tails falling from the sky toward earth before a bright light and loud explosion sounds.
(Watch on this page at the left KSLA News report on Camp Minden explosion.)
As the public questions possible conspiracies about the event, including whether the event could be related to methane from the Louisiana sinkhole disaster, physicists confirmed Friday that a meteor could ignite methane if methane had travelled that far north from the Bayou Corne sinkhole disaster area.
Officials report that a bunker loaded with explosives, leased to a private company Explo Systems Inc. is the source of the explosion in the L-1 area toward the central eastern part of Camp Minden. It is now off-limits to reporters, officials say, for safety reasons.
After Amy Mealey and her family lived a few miles from Camp Minden for five years, they had grown so accustomed to military activity sounds, she told the News Star that she no longer noticed them, until just before 11:30 p.m. Monday.
"I honestly thought we were being bombed," said Mealey. "It was the scariest thing I've ever been through."
Just before going to bed, Mealey, a mother of two "felt an odd feeling in the pit of her stomach — like a rolling thunder in the distance," News Star reported.
"It was getting closer and closer, and I felt everything moving with me. I could literally feel it moving toward me."
The Meaely's reported that their house shook, shattering a lead window and blowing out its frame.
Hazmat crews began collecting photo evidence from the scene Tuesday to send to the Hazardous Materials Unit in Baton Rouge for it to try to determine what caused the powerful blasts.
News reports had previously stated that at least ten blasts occurred. Multiple witnesses apparently reported that they saw something falling down from the sky towards the earth before the mushroom cloud was created.
"After they conclude their investigation, they submit it to Baton Rouge where a whole other team examines it," said Louisiana State Police Trooper Matt Harris. That way we leave no stone unturned and everything is covered.
"If you miss something, it can be very crucial to the outcome of the investigation. You want things done right, especially with explosive materials and stuff like that."
Camp Minden Training Site (CMTS) is Louisiana National Guard’s (LANG) newest military training site.
In 1941, the Federal Government acquired 15,868 acres of farms, farmland and private lands to construct The Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant (LAAP).
In January 2005, that entire area that had belonged to the U.S. Government as LAAP totaling 14,995 acres was deeded to the State of Louisiana under control of the Louisiana Military Department.
Vacherie Salt Dome is ten miles south of Minden. It is about 270 miles north of Napoleonville Salt Dome where methane leaks increasingly bubble and thousands of earthquakes have occurred along with a sinkhole, that has gown to 4 acres large since early August, prompting state of emergency and mandatory evacuation declarations.
Vacherie Dome was discovered by Standard Oil Company in 1921 during field investigations. In 1985 it was considered for storing nuclear waste.
The event Monday night sent a plume of "smoke 7000 feet into the air," according to KSLA News 12.
"The first thing I saw was the sky light up in the west," eyewitness Billy Edwards said. "It just lit up.
"Then, it lit up again and then we heard the loud boom. It was like a sunset, it was so bright."
Sources: KSLA News, The News Star, Examiner