Only chimney remains after Utah house containing old dynamite, detonated in Holladay

Apr 24, 2024, 7:30 PM | Updated: 9:53 pm

HOLLADAY  — A chimney and the smell of smoke was all that remained of a home in Holladay Wednesday after a significant amount of old dynamite was discovered inside.

Officials said the dynamite had to be detonated inside the home at 2284 E. 6200 South, and the home had to be blown up because of how volatile the situation was.

Unified Fire Authority Assistant Fire Chief Riley Pilgrim told KSL TV that there were “an estimated” 50 sticks of dynamite in and outside the house, equaling around 30 pounds. Pilgrim said it was also anywhere from 40 to 80 years old and crystalizing.

Crews detonate ‘ancient dynamite’ sticks found in Holladay home

“Those crystals become very sensitive to heat damage if you drop it or tip it over in a case; bright lights or anything like that could actually detonate the dynamite where normally it needs a blasting cap or det cord or something,” he said.

Neighbors said the homeowner’s late husband was a chemist, and officials said there were lots of other explosive materials in the basement.

“To get the robot to navigate through that and up the stairs would have been very complicated, dangerous, and even more dangerous for a human to go in there and take it out. So we treated the basement like a bunker – with concrete and a roof on the top. We felt that was probably the most appropriate place to do [the explosion],” Pilgrim said.

The dynamite was discovered after the homeowner’s friend called authorities.

Neighbors like Robert Eliasoff said his front window was busted out, glass broken, and the garage damaged. Another neighbor, Mike Mower, a senior advisor to Gov. Spencer Cox, lives eight houses away.

“The house smells like burnt toast, but that’ll pass,” Mower said.

Both had to be evacuated.

“My focus was we had four, we have four dogs and just some basic clothes and that’s about it,” Eliasoff said.

Mower credited fire and police officials – many of whom didn’t sleep all night.

“They were taking every precaution and that this potentially could have been really serious if things had gone wrong,” he said.

Pilgrim said he’s grateful they were able to take care of these explosives before they went off on their own.

“If we hadn’t taken the steps we did or if that had detonated outside the basement, but not in a secure place … Our worst-case scenario was damaging six, seven, eight homes if that stuff wasn’t properly handled,” he said.

Pilgrim said that based on the amount of dynamite, officials calculated a 3,000-foot danger radius and evacuated everyone within that radius.

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Only chimney remains after Utah house containing old dynamite, detonated in Holladay