ATF Training Exercise Gone Wrong Burns 150 Acres in Texas

Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The last thing the state of Texas needed was another wildfire, having had so many recently, and on top of that, getting the snub from Washington on its request for assistance. But another fire did break out, and the culprit was none other than the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
In Motley County, in North Texas, ATF agents decided to blow up a stockpile of explosives. Unfortunately, in doing so they also set off a grass fire that burned 150 acres before it was brought under control. The blaze lasted almost six hours and required firefighters from five area volunteer departments to extinguish.
ATF said the explosions were designed to serve as a training exercise for bomb squads from several cities, including Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa and Abilene, while also reducing its stockpile of explosives.
Local authorities said the federal agency could face charges for violating the county’s ban on burning. ATF apologized for its mistake, admitting it should have better planned the exercise.
In February-March, a fire in Motley County burned 40,000 acres and forced the evacuation of the town of Matador.
An exasperated Tom Edwards, the Motley County Attorney, told FOX34-TV, “That bunch had a real corner on stupid. We had high winds. We’re under a burn ban because of extensive prairie fire, brush fires, and in they roll with the idea of blowing up things and giving no notification to our sheriff….It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that explosives cause fires….On top of that, we've got the federal government that has refused to provide assistance to the state on the request of Governor Perry because of all our statewide fires. Then in waltzes federal agents and they start a fire.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
ATF May Face Charges over Fire (by Kevin Lewis, Plainview Daily Herald)
ATF Official Rethinking Exercise after Sparking Wildfire (by Kevin Lewis, Plainview Daily Herald)


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