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‘Some of the Oldest and Most Volatile Explosive Devices’ Found at Site of Zionville Explosion Last Week

Multiple agencies assisted in the investigation of the explosion that seriously injured Kevin Isaacs in Zionville on March 31. Photos courtesy WCSO

By Jesse Wood

April 8, 2014. The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office has released some more information regarding the explosion in the Zionville community that seriously injured Kevin Isaacs.

The incident occurred on March 31 when Isaacs was disassembling old blasting caps and removing the explosive material when the unstable chemicals exploded.

Investigators followed up on the ongoing investigation last week. Searching a location described to authorities by the victim, deputies and other assisting agencies found and “rendered inert” 120 blasting caps in all – including loose caps and an entire case of 25 caps. It still isn’t clear why Isaacs was disassembling and where he obtained the explosives. 

The caps found were described as very old and volatile.

“These [were] some of the oldest and most volatile explosive devices I have ever seen in my 25-plus years with [the Explosive Ordinance Disposal agency in Wilkes County],” EOD commander Maj. Doug Cotton said, adding the caps are believed to be 20-plus years old.

While the Boone Fire Department provided tactical safety support on the ground, authorities constructed an explosive pit on site and the EOD neutralized the caps by using a controlled and precise charge, according to a release.

Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman thanked Wilkes County Sheriff Chris Shew, Cotton and the EOD technicians and the Boone Fire Department and Chief Jimmy Isaacs for the quick coordinated effort that “rendered the devices safe” and saved the taxpayers of Wilkes and Watauga counties “literally thousands of dollars.”

“Of utmost importance is that I would like to remind everyone that any explosive device, no matter how small (such as a blasting cap) can have devastating consequences if handled incorrectly,” Hagaman said. “Many old family shops and farms may have blasting caps or even dynamite that has been lying around unused for years. Aged explosive devices become unstable and unpredictable. If anyone comes into contact with old explosives, please contact the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office immediately.”

More than 100 explosive caps were found.
More than 100 blasting caps were found.