Bullet factory goes up in flames

August 22, 2008 10:05:35 AM PDT
A bullet factory went up in flames in Pasadena. The danger is over, but the investigation is just beginning. No one was hurt in the fire, which erupted at about 3am Friday at a factory on Shaver and Westside. But it made for some tense moments at a nearby apartment that had to be evacuated.

The orange glow of the fire could be seen a mile away.

"Upon arrival, we had a very heavy fire load," said Mark Beaver with the Pasadena Fire Department.

It was a load that was literally loaded with ammunition.

"There was a lot of live rounds of ammunition and we were advised there was large quantities of gun powder involved," said Beaver.

And the bullets were flying.

"I was sleeping downstairs and, when I woke up, I heard this boom," said nearby resident Lenor Vazquez.

Vazquez is one of nearly two dozen residents who were evacuated from the Shaver Landing condo complex out of fear of a potential explosion.

"You could see the flames and if there was ammunition there, of course, that's not going to be good for us," said evacuated resident Thamara Munoz.

Nor was the situation good for firefighters who were in a defensive mode throughout their nearly three-and-a-half hour battle with the flames.

"We approached it with aerial operations from our ladder pipe rigs," said Beaver.

Not only did the Pasadena Fire Department have to worry about the live ammunition. They were also told the ammunition company uses a sodium-based cleaner to clean shells for reloading, enough that if those chemicals or containers had caught fire, the entire block would been an inferno.

We're told by the Pasadena Fire Department that the business has been in existence for a number of years and they predate several city ordinances when it comes to the reloading and recycling of ammunition. Fire officials say there was someone in the building burning ammunition at the time of the blaze.

Right now, we're told the fire is accidental, but the investigation is ongoing.

We've been following this fire all morning long with the help of our friends at The Pasadena Citizen, one of our Houston Community newspaper partners.

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