Published October 16, 2012
Story updated: An editor's note appears at the end of this story.
Meteor or munitions? What happened in Webster Parish?
According to numerous reports, a loud boom was heard in a secluded area of the Louisiana parish, leading Sheriff Gary Sexton to tell a local television station that they “definitely had something happen” Monday night.
Area resident Shana Levick told KSLA 12 that she saw the sky light up a bright orange color, and observed “fire sparks” above the tree line. The boom reportedly shook trees and citizens out of bed and shattered windows during the night as well, leading to speculation that it was the sound of impact from a meteor.
This was no meteor, however. The National Weather Service branch office in Shrevesport, La., said the sound was a massive explosion at a munitions recycling factory.
“Monday night at around 11:26 pm, a large explosion occurred to the southwest of Dixie Inn, in Webster Parish, approximately 4 miles southwest of Minden, or 28 miles east of Shreveport … in the borders of the Camp Minden Army ammunition plant,” the weather service said.
The Weather Service captured images of the staggering explosion on its Doppler Radar system, and posted a report about it online. “Based on radar analysis, the plume was initially as high as almost 7,200 feet above ground level.”
The agency said the radar imagery is similar to that usually seen with smoke plumes associated with wildfires.
Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story incorporated information from a wire service report about a similar explosion that occurred several years earlier. The incident on Monday, which occurred at night, did not impact the Webster Parish Schools, or the students of the schools.