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Hidden bunkers discovered stocked with survival supplies

Hidden bunkers discovered stocked with survival supplies
December 12
11:37 2017

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A large amount of explosives and illegally built survivalist cabins were found by crews working to suppress a wildfire in southern Utah in June.

According to a release issued Thursday by the Iron County Sheriff’s Office, boxes of modified novelty hand grenades, explosive powder, fuses, ammunition and firearms were found in multiple survivalist-style shelters illegally built on U.S. Forest Service and state-managed land near the ski resort town of Brian Head.

Firefighters battling the 71,000-acre Brian Head fire heard a series of “popping” sounds while working to control the blaze near Henderson Hill on June 27 — 10 days after the fire was allegedly started by a man using a weed torch to clear his property in dry conditions, the release stated.

“The firefighters first thought the ‘popping’ sounds were rocks exploding due to heat, but as the sound continued for approximately five minutes, firefighters realized the ‘popping’ sound was actually ammunition exploding in the fire,” Iron County sheriff’s Lt. Del Schlosser wrote in the release.

Firefighters discovered a burned-down cabin and a bunker that had been dug into the ground. The bunker contained a box of grenades that had been altered by drilling out the bottoms and plugging the drilled holes with threaded, galvanized pipe plugs. Explosive powder, fuses, ammunition and containers of food storage were also found in the bunker.

On June 30, officers contacted a man in Parowan, about 20 minutes away, who admitted to owning the cabin, bunker and explosives. He also told investigators there were an additional seven or eight structures hidden throughout the area that he had built over a “number of years.”

“He said it was a place to go when the end of the world came,” Schlosser said.

Dozens of grenades in inert condition were found in the original bunker. Bomb technicians destroyed several hand grenades at the site and “a significant quantity” of black powder.

Investigators located each of the bunker and cabins the next day. All the structures had been built on public land. County and federal officials had to remove the items from the bunkers before dismantling them.

Two of the cabins had been destroyed in the fire. They had been constructed with concrete footings at each of the four corners as anchors for the structure. It was also outfitted with a corrugated metal roof and a metal stove and chimney.

Another cabin was located on a steep mountainside outside of the fire area on state-managed land. This cabin, which was not effected by the fire, was made of plywood and two-by-four beams secured to concrete footing, measuring approximately 4 feet wide by 8 feet long and 10 feet tall in size. Two bunk-beds, food and water storage, reading materials and a small amount of ammunition were found inside.

The name of the Parowan man has not been released.

Schlosser said a criminal investigation has been completed and has been forwarded to the Iron County Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine whether charges should be filed.

Follow Bree Burkitt on Twitter: @BreeBurkitt

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