Kansas City, MO Ammonium Nitrate Explosion, Nov 1988

Remains Of Explosion


Kansas City, Mo. (AP) -- The ammonium nitrate that exploded during an arson fire at a highway construction site and killed six firemen had been mixed with other compounds that made it far more volatile, police said.
Firefighters wore black bands around their badges Wednesday to honor those who died in what was the worst firefighting tragedy in the city's history.
Killed in the explosion Tuesday at a construction site in south Kansas City were Capt. GERALD C. HALLORAN, 59, Capt. JAMES H. KILVENTON, 54, and firemen THOMAS M. FRY, 41, LUTHER E. HURD, 31, ROBERT McKARNIN, 42, and MICHAEL R. OLDHAM, 32.
Officials initially thought that only ammonium nitrate, considered one of the milder and more stable form of explosives, had been in the two trailers that blew up in the predawn hours Tuesday.
The ammonium nitrate had been mixed with diesel fuel, pink dye and powdered aluminum to form "Maynes mix," a blasting agent susally detonated by a small amount of dynamite, police said.
The discovery explains why the blasts were powerful enough to kill the firefighters, demolish two firetrucks and create a boom that was heard as far as 40 miles away.
"All it requires is a heat source" to explode, said Sgt. GREGORY MILLS, a police spokesman.
MILLS said there were no significant developments Wednesday in the arson investigation.
The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is investigating whether the explosives were stored properly, said TOM TRUMAN, special agent in charge. Federal regulations govern the distances that must separate stored explosives from houses, buildings, highways and other explosives.
The bureau conducted a routine administrative inspection at the site before Tuesday's tragedy but TRUMAN declined to discuss it.
The six firefighters had been warned by a dispatcher there could be explosives at the scene of a fire that police believe was sparked by an arsonist, transcripts of conversations with dispatchers show.

Atchison Daily Globe Kansas 1988-12-01