A Venice Florida home was recently set ablaze during a reloading disaster which resulted in over 10,000 rounds of ammunition being burned away in the blaze. According to the Fox 13 news report, the two-alarm fire was brought under control as neighboring houses were evacuated using remotely operated tools.
Florida Men Cause Reloading Disaster Burning 10,000 Rounds Of Ammo
Although the two men inside the garage who were apparently hand-loading the ammunition were “severely burned” no other injuries seem to have been reported. At the scene, investigators stated that approximately 10,000 rounds of loaded ammunition, as well as 100 pounds of “black powder”, were inside the garage. In addition, they also found what appears to be welding equipment as they found oxygen and acetylene tanks in the garage as well.
As a reloading enthusiast myself, I have to wonder what went wrong to cause a fire of this magnitude. Although the news report stated that Black Powder was used, I also have to wonder if they simply meant one of the many hundreds of smokeless modern propellants currently used by most reloaders. Although black powder is still used by many, it is far from the norm.
The fact that this reloading disaster resulted in not only 100 lbs of powder going up in flames but also ignited nearby ammo just goes to show that several safety precautions were not taken during the reloading process. One thing that could have caused a fire of this scale is an open propellant container. Reloading propellants are commonly found in 1lb, 5lb and 8lb canisters and the standard practice is to only empty out what you need into your powder hopper and then retain the remainder to the storage container. Leaving one open just exposes it to any flames or smaller bits of burning propellant which could ignite the rest.
Until more information comes out, however, the blame cannot be squarely placed on the reloaders themselves. Some powders have been known to spontaneously combust after prolonged storage and many recalls have been issued from various companies who have caught this defect early enough.
In any case, my hope is that the two men recover from their injuries and that repairs are covered by the insurance companies. Until then, please remember to keep your powder and primers stored separately and properly and to perhaps always keep a fire extinguisher handy should the worst happen!