Chicopee officials reveal evacuations, controlled burns caused by man who threw mound of gunpowder in yard
CHICOPEE – A crisis that forced the closure of five streets and a dozen families to be evacuated from their homes for a day was sparked by a man who regularly threw gunpowder in his backyard.
Police Chief William R. Jebb revealed details of the hazardous materials incident This happened about three weeks ago and caused chaos in a Chicopee Falls neighborhood during a recent city council meeting.
The man died before the discovery of the gunpowder. He “compiled a really big mound of gunpowder because he used to reload ammo there and throw the old powder into the pile,” Jebb said.
Chicopee Fire officials said they responded to a small fire in an excavator just before 4 p.m. on September 23 and learned of the hazardous material found in the yard of a multi-family home on Summer Street. Jebb said the man’s family members were the ones who found the pile of gunpowder.
The next morning, public safety officials from the Chicopee Police and Fire Department and the Bomb Squad of the Massachusetts State Police, the Massachusetts Fire Department and the Department of Protection of the state environment descended on the neighborhood. About a dozen of the nearest homes have been evacuated for the day and utilities have been shut down.
At the time, authorities revealed that they had found “energetic material” on the outside of a house, but gave no details as to what the substance was or who put it there.
The agencies decided to remove the gunpowder with controlled combustion. Residents of High, Walnut, Pine and Summer Streets and Walnut Avenue who were not evacuated were instructed to stay indoors with doors and windows closed and to stay away from windows while gunpowder was sprayed. gun was burned.
No one was injured and by 10 p.m. the burn was over. Two houses were slightly damaged by heat and water during the incident.
“Unfortunately, no one can be held responsible because the individual who did this is no longer with us,” Jebb said.