Explosion rocks US Army facility in Japan; no injuries

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A blast at a U.S. Army depot outside Tokyo sparked a fire that burned for hours early Monday and set off secondary explosions. Officials said there were no apparent injuries.  U.S. Army photo
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A blast at a U.S. Army depot outside Tokyo sparked a fire that burned for hours early Monday and set off secondary explosions. Officials said there were no apparent injuries. U.S. Army photo

Explosion rocks US Army facility in Japan; no injuries

by: Erik Slavin | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: August 24, 2015

TOKYO — A blast at a U.S. Army depot outside Tokyo sparked a fire that burned for hours early Monday and set off secondary explosions. Officials said there were no apparent injuries.

The explosion at Sagami Depot in Kanagawa Prefecture, 34 miles from Tokyo Station, occurred inside a one-story, concrete warehouse at about 12:45 a.m., Army spokesman Lt. Col. Kevin Toner said.

Firefighters battled the ensuing blaze throughout the early-morning hours. The building was still smoldering at about 5:30 a.m., Toner said.

The explosion shot up fireballs and some fireworks-like blasts that were visible miles away, according to YouTube videos posted by Japanese residents.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately known, Toner said. However, the building housed canisters of compressed air, nitrogen, oxygen and Freon, Toner said.

“There are no indications of injuries,” Toner added in an email message. “The building that exploded was not designated as a hazardous material storage facility.”

Sagami Depot does not normally store ammunition or radiological materials, Toner said.

Aerial footage on Japan’s NHK television showed a broad warehouse with a large section missing from the roof. Everything visible inside appeared charred.

The NHK camera zoomed in on what appeared to be a small, blackened cylindrical object lying on grass outside of the building.

The building’s walls remain intact but the windows and doors sustained damage, Toner said.

Sagami is a roughly 500-acre property located near Sagamihara Station. There were no reports of the fire spreading beyond the base. About 580 people work there, NHK reported. The depot is about seven miles from Camp Zama, home to thousands of U.S. soldiers and Japan Self-Defense Forces personnel.

In July, Army officials confirmed the U.S. had returned 42 acres of Sagami Depot to Japan last year that had been used for Army family housing.

Another 86 acres have been earmarked for joint use by the U.S. and Japanese governments since 2012, Toner said last month.

This story will be updated.

slavin.erik@stripes.com

Twitter:@eslavin_stripes

 

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