Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Friday, June 30, 2006

What Happened in Worley?

Air conditioners, old gaming machines, and light fixtures are not regulated explosive materials, so they can probably be ruled out as the cause of the incident that killed two employees at the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Casino north of Worley yesterday. However, articles today in The Spokesman-Review and the Coeur d'Alene Press variously suggested "fireworks," "electronic detonators," and a propane tank may have been stored in the container. Quite properly, none of the investigative agencies will speculate on the cause and origin of the fatal fire, preferring to wait until their investigations have been completed to report substantiated findings.

Kootenai County Sheriff's spokesflak Ben Wolfinger reportedly said it wasn't yet known if fireworks were being stored in the container. That's inaccurate. Someone knew, because if explosives were being stored in the container, someone put them there. The real question is whether the two deceased victims and all other employees whose duties caused them to open and enter any of the containers knew. It would have been grossly irresponsible at best and criminally negligent at worst for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and the Casino to have stored explosive materials in the containers without providing safety training and education for employees whose duties required them to be in or near the containers. In other words, the Tribe had a duty to inform employees if explosive materials were stored in the containers, and it had a duty to provide proper safety and handling training for employees who might have been exposed to the materials during the performance of their duties.

One year ago today, June 30, 2005, I posted Harmless Fireworks or Lethal Explosives? That post explained "fireworks" are regulated explosive materials. Any explosive materials, including "fireworks" should be handled only by qualified, trained explosive handlers or pyrotechnicians. As Spokesman-Review staff writer Jody Lawrence-Turner noted today in her article headlined Fireworks mishaps altered lives, things go wrong even for qualified, trained professional pyros.

We need to know exactly what happened in Worley.


Anonymous David Newberger said...

Right Now word is coming out that there were fragments of fireworks found in the debris

8:16 AM, July 01, 2006  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


Thank you. Yes, I read that in both The Spokesman-Review and the Coeur d'Alene Press this morning. Frankly, after seeing the aerial photos on KREM-2 News Thursday night, there was little doubt in my mind.

8:19 AM, July 01, 2006  
Anonymous David Newberger said...

After hearing about the contents of the conex box and hearing from people first hand about it I also knew it was fireworks.

Sitting in Minnesota and writing about Idaho is an odd feeling. I was talking with 3 people while it was happening and I was able to blog it all as it was happening.

Knew it was fireworks about 15 mins after it happened.

Knew, 2 people had died about one hour after it happened.

Knew, the names of the decesed about an hour and fifteen munutes after it happened.

All of this was going on and the ability to get first hand information was great.

It was also scary because the people I was getting my information from was not an official tribal source.

But the information was legit and it was broke on the rez times as it was happening.

7:20 AM, July 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about OSHA violations? And the Tribe cancelled its annual fireworks demonstration. Heck, they were all blown up in the tragic explosion.

10:41 PM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


Good point about OSHA. I presume that like the BATF, Fed-OSHA would have some authority to investigate since the incident involved non-tribal members. However, even if an investigation finds the explosive materials were unsafely stored or were being improperly handled, I don't know what sanctions could be applied to the tribe. The information I've received is that one of the men who died considered himself to be a pyrotechnician. However none of the obituaries I've read indicated he or the other victim had trained and apprenticed with career, experienced pyros. The point is, I can call myself a pyro if I want to, but that would not relieve an employer from checking my credentials and verifying my currency and proficiency in pyrotechnics before giving me responsibility for handling them safely. I would also like to trace the provenance of the explosive material all the way back to its point of manufacture. Bluntly, I sincerely hope the Coeur d'Alene Tribe had acquired legally manufactured or lawfully imported material manufactured to US standards.

6:54 AM, July 17, 2006  

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