September 24, 2007

Blasting near Howard Lake gets national attention

Footage of blasting shot by a local news station is picked up by CNN

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

What started as a phone call by Pat Borrell to the Herald Journal to request an article notifying area residents of his upcoming blasting of World War II surplus TNT, mushroomed into local TV coverage and subsequently picked up by CNN.

Tipped off by the Herald Journal article, local news station KARE 11 showed up at the scene on the first day of blasting, Sept. 15.

“I didn’t know they (KARE 11) were coming – they just showed up,” Borrell said. “I was a little nervous about how they would present it, if they would put a negative slant on it or not, but they did a good job. It turned out nice,” he explained.

For safety purposes, Borrell told the news crew to stay back a distance while the bombs were assembled.

“They wanted to film the assembly. I told them ‘I’m not going to teach people how to make bombs on TV,’” Borrell laughed.

CNN picked up KARE 11’s footage and Borrell started getting calls from friends and relatives across the US. His sister in Detroit called after seeing the footage, as well as a relative in Florida.

The footage can be viewed at KARE11.com after doing a search for “Borrell.”

Borrell even received a call the following day from someone locally who had old blasting caps that needed to be destroyed.

“That’s something that really shouldn’t be laying around. It’s good we got rid of it – it was worth the coverage in the newspaper and TV,” Borrell said.

The two days of blasting went very well and Borrell said it was a good time.

The TNT was buried a few feet into the ground, 25 pounds at a time, which resulted in a hole about six feet deep and eight to 10 feet across per explosion.

Borrell had his daughter Breanne Adickes of Howard Lake videotaping the blasts from her and her husband, Brandon’s, house. The blasts could be seen in full view from their property.

“I’m always up close to the blasts – I never get to see the full impact. That’s the one thing I miss out on,” Borrell said.

Now that the old TNT has been destroyed, the wooden boxes that they were once stored in will remain a valuable commodity, especially because the wording on the boxes can still be read.

“It’s pretty neat stuff (the old boxes and similar blasting memorabilia Borrell has collected) as far as I’m concerned. People like me who are into explosives would go way out of their way get a hold of this stuff,” he said.

“Especially if it says ‘TNT’ because there’s just nothing around like that any more,” Borrell added.

Borrell also has acquired two vintage blasting machines. They look just like the ones you see in the movies or the cartoons with the box shape base and the plunger handle on top.

As was stated in the previous article, Borrell has been handling explosives since 1966, and is federally licensed and inspected.

Borrell’s mentor was the late Leonard Dangers of Howard Lake. Dangers was well versed in explosives and was an explosives supplier.

“He was quite a character – he was one of the few people who could talk more than me,” Borrell laughed.

“If you’d stop by for 10 minutes it would turn into four hours. It was always fun – good conversation – good times,” he added.

Dangers was well known in the area and a separate story just about some of his adventures will be in a winter issue of the Herald Journal.

Borrell’s explosive days are not over. Even though he was instructed to rid his magazine of old TNT, he will still safely keep a supply of other explosives that may be needed to blast out the occasional rock, tree stump, or beaver dam.

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