RI beach explodes?: Salty Brine Beach Evacuated

Published: July 12, 2015

RI beach explodes?: Salty Brine Beach Evacuated, The Salty Brine beach was evacuated Saturday morning while the state bomb squad investigates reports of a possible explosion near the rocks, according to a spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
Spokeswoman Rayna Maguire said details are still sketchy, but a 50-year-old woman who appeared to be “trapped” on the rocks had been taken to South County Hospital. There were no other reports of injuries.
“Something did happen but we are not sure exactly what,’’ said Larry Mouradjian, DEM’s associate director for natural resources, in an interview shortly after 3 p.m.
He said investigators ran down reports from witnesses, including an initial report of a potentially suspicious person carrying two red bags that appeared full when he walked in one direction, and then empty.
After exploring the area and finding piles of shells that looked as though they had been recently dumped within the breakwater, Mouradjian said that “satisfied”’ concerns.
He said he is not aware of any current “actively-engaged search’’ for a suspect.
And he said there is no evidence, at this time, of terrorism or a device that might have caused the eruption that witnesses described as an explosion, and landed a woman face-down in the sand.
“I can tell you there was definitely a ground disturbance there,’’ he said, “some ground force.’’
He said there were also some reports that people on the beach smelled some sort of chemical smell, perhaps sulphur or butane. He said samples were taken but there was no explanation yet.
“They are on their hands and knee sifting through the sand for any debris or evidence,” he said.
For now, he said, the sandy part of the beach remains closed to beachgoers.
Mouradjian said he will brief the media, at the scene, at 4 p.m.
Looks like officials are back on the rocks #SaltyBrine @projo pic.twitter.com/pAafY6YvvR
— Tracee Herbaugh (@T_Marie) July 11, 2015
Witnesses reported the explosion was under the sand and blew the woman onto the rocks, according to Maguire.
Mario Lewis of West Greenwich told the Journal he heard what appeared to be an explosion in the sand next to the rock wall.
He said he was catching crabs in the water when the “boom” knocked over a woman about three feet from him.
“It was like an M-80 boom, like a grenade,” he said.
But he said there was no debris or black smoke associated with the “loud boom,” which sounded to him like a “gas explosion” though he had no knowledge that was the cause.
Maguire said DEM was called in by the Narragansett police at around 11:15 a.m., as calls about the incident started coming in. She said the bomb squad was called at 11:31 a.m.
The bomb squad arrived just before 1 p.m. and a a DEM worker under supervision of the bomb squad used a Bobcat front-end loader to scoop sand from the site and move it higher up the beach.
A Providence Journal reporter at the scene said the focus of the activity seemed to be in a corner of the beach, right where it meets the rock wall. He said authorities were setting up a command center.
The private Galilee Beach Club beach, just next to Salty Brine State Beach, remains open.
The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency is reminding Rhode Islanders to report any suspicious activity they see to law enforcement.
Remember: If you #SeeSomething, #SaySomething. Report suspicious activity to your local law enforcement http://t.co/IPRfcrDSD1
— Rhode Island EMA (@RhodeIslandEMA) July 11, 2015

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