Undetonated Shells Complicate Effort to Battle Pinyon Fire

(KCPW News) Ammunition is making it difficult for firefighters to battle a wildfire burning on the Utah National Guard’s Camp Williams, just outside of Eagle Mountain. Spokesman Lt. Col. Hank McIntire says areas of the base are filled with thousands of undetonated shells that have been there for decades.

“We can’t send helicopters over the area the area to dump water because of the possibility that unexploded ammunition could go off, and then damage the helicopter or take it down,” he says. “And we don’t send ground crews into that area either for the same reason because of the danger that it poses.”

As Fire Information Officer Kim Osborn explains, the Pinyon Fire was started by lightning on Sunday.

“The fire has grown to 3,042 acres and it’s at about 40 percent contained. We have about 270 people total, firefighters, including overhead and Camp Williams people that are involved with managing the fire,” says Osborn.

Camp Williams officials say there is too much risk involved in moving the ammunition, so they won’t consider that as an option. It’s estimated the fire will be fully contained next Monday.