Fire Marshals Update Middletown ‘Explosion’, ATF Assisting With Investigation – State’s First Update


The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating this afternoon’s explosion in Middletown, according to Deputy State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio.

Chionchio said the explosion, heard across northern Delaware, was reported shortly before 12:00 p.m. in the 4700 block of Summit Bridge Road. The Middletown Volunteer Hose Company responded to several 9-1-1 calls reporting the explosion north of Middletown. Firefighters discovered a vehicle damaged by explosives in the farm field about 500 meters west of Summit Bridge Road, according to Chionchio.

The deputy fire marshals intervened on the scene to conduct the investigation. Several people were gathered in the field, before the explosion, to practice shooting with guns, Chionchio said. Towards the end of target training, an explosive mixture commonly referred to as a binary blasting rifle target was prepared and placed next to an abandoned vehicle. The binary blasting rifle target detonated using a long-range rifle causing the explosion, according to Chionchio. The vehicle was destroyed and the fragmentation was scattered over nearly three acres of farmland. Chionchio said: “The binary target of the blasting rifle has been misused and not in accordance with its legitimate purpose”.

The Delaware State Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit and explosives specialists from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) are participating in this investigation.

No injuries were reported. Investigators roam the area to determine if any property has been damaged. Chionchio said the criminal charges were awaiting review by the Delaware state attorney general’s office, according to Chionchio.

The explosion was heard throughout northern Delaware.

Breakage report

The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating an incident that rocked parts of New Castle County this morning.

Just before 12:00 p.m. Sunday morning, a Delaware State Police (DSP) aviation pilot alerted Fireboard (NCC County 911) that a large explosion rocked the helicopter hangar. The pilot also reported seeing smoke southwest of the hangar.

As the crew prepared the helicopter for take off so they could investigate the smoke, Fireboard began to receive several reports of a loud “explosion.” Rescue teams from the Middletown Volunteer Hose Company took to the streets in search of the scene of the reported “explosion”, quickly finding a location they believed the noise to be coming from the 4800 block of Summit Bridge Road in Middletown .

At the same time that this was happening, many of you were texting us to try to find out what the noise was. Shortly after, we told you that the first crews to arrive reported that a car had exploded at the address and called for the police. First responders also advised Firebosard that the DNREC should also be notified. Shortly after this report, police arrived at the scene and teams then responded to their posts.

At approximately 4:00 p.m. this afternoon, the DSP reported that the Delaware State Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit was currently assisting the State Fire Marshal’s Office with destroying certain materials at the scene. They informed the public that there could be loud noises coming from the area in the next half hour. They added that the Office of the Fire Marshal was leading the investigation.

Firefighters cleaned up the scene in the last few minutes. We should get a preliminary report from them later today or early in the morning.


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