Clipped From Ukiah Daily Journal
Officials probe junkyard explosion Associated Press FONTANA — A private contractor is being questioned about how live artillery shells found their way to a metal recycling plant where a blast killed a worker and injured two others, authorities said. Investigators from the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office and Sheriff's Department have been questioning officials from Barstow-based Allied Technologies, which was contracted to remove ordnance and scrap metal from artillery ranges at Fort Irwin, authorities said. "We are seeking to talk to Allied Technologies," said Barry Bruins, chief of the bureau of investigation for the District Attorney's Office. "We are investigating the explosion as an industrial accident at this point." The March 18 explosion occurred when Martin Mendoza, 20, of Pomona tried to dismantle a 105 mm shell with a blowtorch. He was killed in the blast. Two other workers were injured. Martin Najera, 25, and Jose Villareal, 20, both from Pomona, were treated and released from a hospital last week. Workers had been told the shell was a dud. More than 20 shells have been detonated by sheriff's investigators and Army ordnance experts. Officials said at least 20 more will be detonated this week. On Wednesday morning, a 90 mm shell believed to contain high explosives was discovered. "This is the most dangerous site I have ever seen," said Sgt. Bob Hall, an explosives expert and 27-year Sheriff's Department veteran. "This was a huge oversight on someone's part." Explosives experts have combed through about 65 percent of the estimated 340 tons of shells and scrap metal in the yard, Hall said. Some investigators have suffered cramps and other heat-related problems because of the slow, gritty work, he said. "The men are wearing at least 30 pounds of gear and it's tough work anytime, especially when it gets hot," Hall said. "We arc treating everything on the dangerous side. We don't know what we are going to find."