Ammunition goes off as crews battle Colorado house fire

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 8.07.47 PMYou may recall that, back in January, I showed an educational video demonstrating how ammunition will react in a house fire. It was based on research and testing by Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, Inc. (SAAMI).  If your ammunition is NOT chambered in a firearm, the powder will likely ignite, but will not reach high enough velocity, in most cases, to even go through a piece of drywall. The story is very different if you have a chambered round in a gun, in this case a fire will cause a round to fire as it normally would if the trigger were pulled.

UPDATE: Shawn from over at LooseRounds.com shared a classic firearm reference with me called “Hatcher’s Notebook” it was first published in 1947 by retired Army Major General Julian Hatcher.  Start reading around page 526 for more detailed information on this topic, as it does validate the info in the SAAMI video I shared previously.

In Colorado, the Aurora Fire Department has contained a house fire last Saturday morning that destroyed the garage of the house. The fire department says there were ‘multiple rounds’ of ammunition inside the house on the 4600 block of Norfolk Way. Witnesses said they could hear the ammunition go off as firefighters poured water on the house. One man inside the home was transported to a local hospital to be treated for burns. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Read more via 9news.com.

To me it sounds like microwave popcorn – and I would be leery of going near the structure, even given the above information from SAAMI. Watch the video to hear the ammunition igniting in the fire.

A friend of mine recently told me a story about a man he worked with, who was a Defense Contractor in Colorado Springs.  Apparently, when the wild fires that wreaked havoc in the Colorado Springs area last year, this man and his wife were under evacuation order, and they did heed the warnings and left their home.  Sometime later, the gentleman decided he had a duty to go back home, as he feared for the lives of the firefighters because he had ammo in his home. He did re-enter his home and was killed by the fire. I wish I could have talked to him about the what I learned in the SAAMI test – if I had, he might still be here with his wife today.

Are you a firefighter or do you know a firefighter? If a homeowner tells you there is ammo in the home – what do you do?  How dangerous is it really? I could like to hear from those with first hand experience.

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2 thoughts on “Ammunition goes off as crews battle Colorado house fire

  1. Ammo poses only a marginal hazard in a house fire. Extensive testing has been done over the years by the U.S. military, Saami , various ammo companies and I believe NFPA. Ammo that is not chambered in an action of a firearm cannot build the pressure to become a significant hazard.
    On the other hand, loaded firearms present a significant hazard should they be exposed to enough heat to cook off the chambered round.

    Testing showed that un-chambered 30-06 rounds, placed in an ordinary shoe box and remotely detonated would burst into pieces. Yet the fragments lacked the energy to penetrate out of the light cardboard box. The conclusion was that case fragments of an exploded cartridge could indeed become an eye hazard to a person very close to the cartridge upon detonation. If however that detonation occurred due to heat as from a house fire, the required heat would be more likely fatal to any victims in the first place. Further Personal Protection equipment such as Bunker gear and SCBA masks while allowing firefighters to resist heat, also provide barriers that would based on testing be more than adequate to protect against un-chambered ammunition detonations.

    1. Mike, thank you for this information! The story my friend told about his friend going back to a wild fire evacuated home to get his ammo (for worry of firefighters being harmed) made me sad. If he had known this, he would have made a different decision. I truly appreciate you sharing your knowledge!

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