‘Chemical reaction’ caused explosion in CDO Army camp

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 13 July) – A “chemical reaction” may have triggered the explosion at the ammunition dump in a big military headquarters at Camp Evangelista here that roused Kagay-anons from sleep in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Vladimir Sta Maria, commanding officer of the 10th Forward Service Support Unit responsible for the storage and safety of the explosives and ammunition of the 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division, shows how Magazine No. 5, the “ammo dump” that exploded, looked like. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

“If gunpowder is exposed to a certain environment, it may trigger a chemical reaction that may lead it to be unstable,” said Lt. Col. Vladimir Sta. Maria, commanding officer of the 10th Forward Service Support Unit responsible for the storage and safety of the explosives and ammunition of the 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division.

He said this is the initial finding they got from the testimonies of soldiers who witnessed how the explosions at Magazine No. 5 started. But Sta. Maria did not expound further on the topic, noting that it was too technical a discussion for laymen.

He estimated damages at Magazine No. 5 at P27 million

Magazine No. 5, one of 10 ammo dumps at Camp Evangelista in Barangay Patag, stored 155-mm howitzer rounds and various ammunition for military units under one of the largest Army camps in Mindanao.
Three persons residing inside Camp Evangelista were treated for minor injuries because of the explosions. They were identified as Reynard Quirweca, 45; Curt Angelo Cuizon, 15; and Acolbay Escalante, 22.
A total of 61 families numbering 327 persons, shaken by the thunderous explosions from the burned ammo dump, were forced to flee to the gymnasium inside the camp.
Another 100 families fled to the covered court of Barangay Patag.

Authorities will start the investigation Wednesday by sending experts from the Army’s explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) unit, PNP Scene of the Crime Operatives, and Bureau of Fire Protection to the blast site.

Lt. Col. Vladimir Sta Maria during a briefing with Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., Philippine Army chief, and other Army investigators. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner, Philippine Army chief who recently commanded the 4ID, arrived in Cagayan de Oro on Tuesday to set the phase of the investigation. He said damage to the nearby buildings were “minimal.”
Brawner said the ammo dump is located in a remote section of the camp and separated far from the other storage magazines.
He said he believed that all of the safety procedures at the ammo dump were “sufficient” but this has to be investigated still.
“We will be looking if there are lapses in the implementation of the safety procedures,” Brawner said.
He promised that the investigation would be transparent and that the city government of Cagayan de Oro and the residents would have access to the results. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)