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Florence homeowners disturbed over detonated cabin

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FLORENCE, Mont. - Homeowners in a rural area east of Florence are upset over the detonation of a dilapidated cabin last week.

It happened Thursday afternoon off Copper Ridge Trail in Upper Woodchuck. 

Neighbors said the explosion threw debris onto a private road maintained by a homeowners' association and onto private property.

The Missoula County Sheriff's Office said there is nothing illegal about it because it happened on private property. The explosion occurred on property owned by MPG Ranch.

Ranch crews cleaned up what is left of the cabin, organizing and burning debris.

Neighboring residents and the Missoula County Sheriff's Office said ranch workers detonated the cabin. Some of it was scattered up and down the hill and some debris was still on the road. 

When neighbors took pictures of the road Tuesday afternoon they said there was a lot more debris. 

"It shook the whole house," said Upper Woodchuck resident Eugene Potton. "It shook everything."

Potton said nobody warned him of the explosion.

Neighbor Brad Culbreath was concerned over the explosion because he and his family travel the road all the time.

He said it sounded like a propane tank had exploded and his neighbors had to clean up the road of debris before they could get through.

"It shot debris 30 feet up the hill," said Culbreath, "30 feet across the street and up the tree line metal was hanging."

The Missoula County Sheriff's Office investigated complaints. Detectives said it was a legal act occurring on private property.

"Obviously if somebody is in the immediate area when an explosion like that occurs," said Detective Sgt. Kenneth White, "somebody could be injured. But if people detonating the explosives make certain there is nobody in the area it can be done in a safe manner."

White said the MPG Ranch told him they used the over-the-counter binary explosive tannerite. It's a common explosive used mostly in target shooting.

NBC Montana talked to Will Cordes at the Axmen in Missoula about the substance.

Cordes said tannerite is "two materials you mix together that creates an explosive compound that can only be set off by a high velocity rifle cartridge."

He said it would take a great deal of tannerite to blow up a building.

You can buy tannerite kits at Axmen and many other sporting goods outlets. It is illegal to transport it once it is mixed, and you have to be 21 years old to purchase it.

Culbreath said MPG apologized for the detonation. But he said he and his neighbors should have been notified. He said nobody was on site stopping traffic when the cabin was detonated.

NBC Montana called MPG several times for comment, but we did not hear back.


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