The first of the two explosions, described by residents as a very loud “boom” was reported at about 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31. The second one happened about 10 p.m. local residents reported.
Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva said he received 16 calls on his cell phone and the Karnes County dispatch office also received numerous calls from the Hobson, Falls City and Karnes City areas.
Officials with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) were contacted and said that there has been no seismic activity or earthquakes in Karnes County detected or reported on Dec. 31.
Some residents said they thought the explosions may have been related to ongoing oil and gas well drilling or related operations in the area, but Villanueva said there have been no reports of any explosions from energy companies operating in the area.
Villanueva checked with Wilson and Atascosa County sheriff’s offices, and no similar explosions have been reported in those counties.
The explosions, Villanueva said, may have been the result of people igniting homemade bombs, or using Tannerite – an explosive used by target shooters to create a large “bang” when a target is struck by a high velocity rifle bullet. According to information at the company’s website, the exploding binary rifle targets are designed to let target shooters know when a target has been struck from very long distances. When hit by a bullet, the target explodes, creating a cloud of water vapor and also making a thunderous “boom” sound.
Tannerite, which is legal for anyone to purchase and use, can cause very large explosions when mixed in large quantities and struck by a high velocity bullet.
According to a news report in the Rochester Post-Bulletin, in 2008, a Minnesota man faced multiple charges after he detonated 100 pounds of Tannerite inside the bed of a dump truck by shooting it with a rifle. The blast sent personnel at the Prairie Island Nuclear Plant five miles away into high alert.
Whether it was Tannerite, a home-made bomb, or something else, the only damage done was to some frayed nerves, Villanueva noted. Windows, doors and buildings across the county over a wide area were rattled and shaken following the explosions, but no injuries or damage to property have been reported following the blasts.
Anyone who has information related to the reported explosions is encouraged to contact the Karnes County Sheriff’s Office at 830-780-3931.