A blast that shattered the U.S. Army’s Sagami General Depot in the city of Sagamihara, approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Tokyo, causing a fire that burned through the night but injuring no one AFP reports.
First reports that a bomb had gone off in the warehouse proved inaccurate. “I thought the American military facility came under a terrorist attack,” a security guard told local media. “Orange sparks were rising quite high. I couldn’t see smoke but smelled something like gunpowder,” an eye witness noted.
The blast occurred at 12:45am on Monday local time and was extinguished at 7:09am by the local fire department, which dispatched 13 trucks to the site of the explosion, according to the Wall Street JournalEnjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
There was some confusion what exactly was stored at the depot. “We coordinated with U.S. fire units, and did not spray water as we waited for information related to what was inside,” a Sagamihara fire department official told AFP.
Furthermore, the Wall Street Journal relates that Sagamihara’s mayor, Toshio Kayama, received a call from the Colonel William B. Johnson, the garrison commander of the U.S. Army Garrison Japan, during which the mayor insisted on an investigation of the cause of the explosion and the installation of adequate safety measures.
The Pentagon noted in a statement that the facility did not store any “radioactive material” and that no other building at the base were damaged.”The storage building is not designated as a hazardous material storage facility as some initial reports indicated,” according to U.S. Navy Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesperson.
“Inside the building that exploded were canisters of compressed gases: nitrogen, oxygen, freon and air. The cause of the explosion… is under investigation. There are no indications of injuries,” he added.
The Sagamihara General Depot is home to the U.S. Army’s 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, which conducts depot operations and combat service support for U.S. forces in Japan. The base is mostly a repair center for military vehicles. The base is primarily used for storing ammunition and petroleum products, according to local media.