Fire Marshals Update Middletown “Explosion”, ATF Assisting With This Investigation

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

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

Deputy fire marshals responded to the scene to conduct the investigation. Several people were gathered in the field, prior to the explosion, to target practice with firearms said Chionchio. Towards the end of the target practice, an explosive mixture commonly known as a binary exploding rifle target was prepared and placed next to an abandoned vehicle. The binary exploding rifle target was detonated using a long-range rifle causing the explosion, according to Chionchio. The vehicle was destroyed, and fragmentation was scattered throughout nearly three acres of farmland. Chionchio  said, “the binary exploding rifle target was misused and not in accordance with its lawful purpose.”

The Delaware State Police – Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit and explosive specialists from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) are assisting with this investigation.

There were no reported injuries. Investigators are canvassing the area to determine if any property had been damaged.  Chionchio said criminal charges are pending review by the State of Delaware Attorney General’s office, according to Chionchio.

The explosion was heard throughout the northern part of Delaware.

Breaking Report

The Delaware Office of the State Fire Marshal is investigating an incident the shook parts of New Castle County this morning.

Just before 12:00 Sunday morning, a pilot with Delaware State Police (DSP) aviation alerted Fireboard (NCC County 911) that a large explosion shook the helicopter’s hanger. The pilot also reported seeing smoke southwest of the hanger.

As the crew was readying the helicopter to get airborne so they could investigate the smoke, Fireboard began receiving multiple reports of a loud “explosion”. Rescue crews from the Volunteer Hose Company of Middletown hit the streets looking for the scene of the reported “explosion”, quickly finding a location that they believed the noise originated from in the 4800 block of Summit Bridge Road in Middletown

At the same time that this was occurring many of you were messaging us trying to find out what the noise was. Shortly after that, we told you that the first arriving crews reported that a car had been blown up at the address and asked for police. First responders also advised Firebosard that DNREC should be notified as well. Shortly after that report police have arrived at the scene and crews then responded back to their stations.

At around 4:00 this afternoon DSP reported that the Delaware State Police Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit was currently assisting the Office of the State Fire Marshal with destroying some materials at the scene. They advised the public that there may be some loud noises coming from the area within the next half hour. They added that the Fire Marshal’s office was leading the investigation.

Fire Marshals cleared the scene within the last few minutes. We should get a preliminary report from them later today or early in the morning.