Authorities now say that an explosion in an underground bunker at Camp Minden near Dixie Inn, Louisiana – and not a meteorite – was responsible for the flash in the night sky and shock wave felt by residents through the area at 11:26 p.m. Monday.
A helicopter search after daylight discovered the blast site at an explosives storage igloo owned by Explo Systems, one of the companies in the Camp Minden industrial area. The camp is on the grounds of the former Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant south of Interstate 30. Many explosive-related companies have facilities at Camp Minden because of the special facilities it has for the storage and production of explosives.
No injuries were reported but there were widely scattered reports of damage, including glass windows that were shattered in downtown Minden. Many people reported pictures knocked off walls inside their homes.
The National Weather Service said that the initial event happened approximately 4 miles southwest of Minden, or 28 miles east of Shreveport. The initial event occurred at Latitude/Longitude 35.578 N, -93.351 W which is inside Camp Minden. A large flash was observed, citizens were shaken out of bed and windows were shattered for many miles around.
The Shreveport, La National Weather Service Doppler Radar captured some images of the plume caused by the explosion. The first image captured by the radar occurred at 11:28 p.m., with subsequent images captured at 11:37, 11:47, 11:56 and ending at 12:06 a.m.
Based on radar analysis, the plume was initially as high as almost 7,200 feet above ground level. The sampled radar imagery is very similar to what is usually seen with smoke plumes associated with wildfires, it was more vertical and concentrated as it traversed the area from southeast to northwest at approximately 10 mph. It slowly dissipated after approximately 34 minutes, the weather service said.
There was initial speculation that the blast could have been caused by a meteorite. Some witnesses said they saw something bright in the sky falling to the ground before the explosion.
The Louisiana State Police will investigate the incident.
Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton – who observed the explosion from the Cullen area – said his department called in three extra dispatchers to handle calls to its 911 dispatch center.