NEW RIVER, Ariz. (AP) – An Arizona property where a man lost most of a leg in an explosion is the same one where a munitions-maker had an operation in the 1990s, Maricopa County sheriff’s officials said.
A bomb squad was preparing to enter the property on Tuesday to determine what exploded late Monday and see whether there are more explosives on the property, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. “It’s going to take time.”
Arpaio says the 49-year-old injured man was helping tenants move out of a rented house in the New River area north of Phoenix late Monday when he apparently stepped on something that exploded.
“I would presume he stepped on it because his one leg was severed and the other almost,” the sheriff said.
Arpaio said he didn’t know who owns the property now, but said it was once owned by Charles Byers, a former munitions manufacturer.
The property is the same one where state officials removed 8,000 pounds of explosive chemicals in 1999, said sheriff’s office spokesman Joaquin Enriquez.
The 1999 operation took place about two years after federal authorities raided the property, which at that time belonged to Byers.
In their 1997 raid, federal agents discovered a large quantity of explosives, including materials to make grenades and booby traps.
The identity of the injured 49-year-old man was not released.
One of the renters he was helping move out had a military background and was able to aid the injured man, Arpaio said.
“I felt I was back in Iraq again,” renter Jordan Perrin told KPHO-TV.
Perrin said he and his girlfriend, Chelsie Garner, were inside the house and nearly finished loading their belongings when they heard the explosion.
“He said he was just walking,” Perrin said of the victim. “`I was walking,’ that’s all he said because I asked what happened and he said, `I was just walking.'”
Garner told KSAZ-TV that the couple had been told by their landlord that previous owners had done munitions testing on the property yeas before.
“And that the bomb squad had come out and swept the whole thing and everything was clear, but obviously not,” she said.
The property is about a mile from the nearest home, Arpaio said. “There’s no danger to neighbors.”
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