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Old 17 September 2015, 18:48
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CB CB is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Clarksville, Tennessee
Posts: 1,549
It was still a topic when I went through SFOC in 1975. They wouldn't let any of us wear electric wrist watches, even for the non-electric primers.

As it was explained to us ...

... in 1970 the demo range had become a mess of old tangled wires, bits of steel, concrete slabs, burnt up time fuze, etc. left over from years of heading out to the range, setting up a charge, BOOM, then never really cleaning up. Maybe there was WD1/TT wire, some copper wire, unexploded det cord in bits and pieces, and so on.

A team might come out, set up a charge, reel out some wire, set it off with a PRC-77 battery, then walk away, leaving the wire (and the battery) in the mud.

So -- goes the story -- when this training class showed up, the students all walked downrange, set up the ring main for electric priming, with each student handing one lead from his blasting cap to the left, and one to the right. When all western union pigtail splices were intact, the last two lead wires were to be attached to the wire leading up range where the battery/blasting machine would be connected. But in the mess of wires, the student grabbed a hot pair (whether from the earlier demo, or a range exercise weeks earlier) and most of the students still had their 2 lb charges in their hand when the entire ring main went off.

When class 1-76 went through, the range was clean, raked, with little debris and zero excess wire. There was one spool of commo wire bolted to the table in front of the bleachers. Before we went down range, we each had to walk by and personally inspect the standing end of the wire to insure no battery was attached and the (copper wire) ends were twisted together. Then the first student grabbed the free-running end and started walking downrange, unreeling the wire. The next student grabbed the wire after about 20 feet had payed out and started walking. One by one we waited our turn to carry the wire downrange, unrolling it without it ever touching the ground. Several hundred feet later, we rigged our charges, then we returned up range where the standing end was untwisted and attached to the blasting machine. After the detonation, the wire was cut off about five or ten feet from the ragged blast end, and carefully rewound onto the reel. All scraps of wire were recovered and trashed.

We heard that the NCOIC had received credible death threats following the blast, and was lodged in a Pineland safe house for a while after the accident.
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