Residents in the three-state area reported hearing and/or feeling an explosion first reported to be a meteor late Monday (Oct. 15) night.
However, Webster Sheriff Gary Sexton confirmed to NBC 6 News reporters that rather than a meteor, the explosion was caused by an underground bunker that exploded at the former World War II Army ammunitions installation. Camp Minden in Webster Parish.
According to Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton, the underground bunker was at Explo Systems, Inc., a veteran-owned small business that demilitarizes and recovers explosives and propellant.
A news conference, scheduled for 11 this morning with Terry Wright, vice president of operations of Explo Systems Inc. was cancelled after Wright didn't show up, but Sexton briefly spoke to reporters. He said he was driving (back to Minden) from a hunting trip and say the explosion Monday night.
He added that three additional dispatchers were called in to assist 911 calls reporting damages such as broken glass and pictures falling off walls.
In 1941, the U.S. government acquired ownership of the site. LAAP was a U.S. Army Armament, Munitions, and Chemical Command (AMCCOM) installation, where ammunition items were loaded, assembled and packed for soldiers fighting in the European and Pacific Theaters in the Second World War.
Actual operations began in 1942 with eight ammunition lines and one ammonium nitrate graining plant.
Ammunition production ceased in August 1945 at the close of World War II and the facility was placed in a standby status.
However, the facility was reactivated in February 1951 to support the Korean conflict and all ammunitions loading lines were operational including a metals forging and machining plant area known as the Y-Line Chromic Acid Etching Facility.
The Y-Line was used to manufacture 155-mm projectiles. In February 1958, the installation was again placed in standby status.
Watch NBC 6 News reporters Morgan Thomas and Marquel Sennet at 5 and 6 today for full coverage of this story.
The plant was reactivated in support of the Vietnam war, with four production areas used for classified ammunition items. The LAAP installation continued ammunition production for the U. S. military until 1994.