tannerite

An explosion heard Sunday evening near Washington was once again believed to be from an exploding target used for firearms practice.

Washington Fire Chief Bill Halmich said the noise was likely the result of gunfire at an exploding target. The brand name for the target is Tannerite. When hit with a high-velocity round of ammunition, it explodes and sounds like a cannon firing.

Halmich said his crews were called just before 5:40 p.m. Sunday for the sound of an explosion on the western end of town. It was originally reported as an explosion at the industrial park in the area of the Computech Manufacturing Co.

Halmich said crews investigated the park and found no signs of any damage. Eventually, with citizens’ reports, Halmich said crews came to believe the sound was from exploding Tannerite.

Sunday’s investigation was the second time in a month crews have been called out for a possible explosion. Just before Christmas, Washington police and fire crews responded to the sound of an explosion near the city’s wastewater treatment plant. This time, the noise was on the other end of town.

In both cases, authorities believed the explosion originated outside of the city limits. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department had no reports of explosions during that time.

Washington Police Detective Sgt. Steve Sitzes said Tannerite is a legal product.

He said as long as it’s being set off outside city limits, there’s not much police can do. Tannerite has to be set off by firing a gun, which is illegal in the city.

Sitzes added there was a small possibility that peace disturbance charges could be filed, but he was unsure if they would stick.

A December explosion was traced to a shooting club off Old Highway 100 near the Farm to You Market. Sitzes said it’s perfectly legal to fire guns on the site.

Police told the club’s owner to alert city and county police before shooting Tannerite again in case residents called to report the noise.

Halmich said he would appreciate a heads up as well. He said Tannerite is not made for populated areas and encouraged anyone outside the city planning on using Tannerite to call the city’s dispatch at 636-390-1050 to provide a warning.

Halmich said it’s a “problem” to send multiple units out to investigate possible explosions when nothing is wrong. He said he felt it put the city unnecessarily at risk by having crews moved and out investigating a non-issue.

“People have got to realize there are serious implications,” he said. “Something like this prompts an emergency response that’s not necessary.”