Sheriff seizes Duckels' explosives license permit

— Explosives licenses held by a local construction owner have been suspended by a state agency after allegations that an errant dynamite blast that caused damage to neighboring homes and injured a young girl was done illegally.

On Tuesday afternoon, Routt County Sheriff John Warner seized the permits held by Fred Duckels because of an order by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Because of the suspension, Warner's office was also ordered to seize all of Duckels' explosive devices from his company's headquarters at 3500 Duckels Court.

Duckels "was very cooperative," Warner said. "We didn't have any problems."

Warner, Undersheriff Daniel Taylor, Steamboat Springs Assistant Fire Chief Bob Struble and two sheriff's deputies confiscated 89 sticks of dynamite, 277 lighters, 109 blast caps, 99 detonators, 23 delay detonators and 650 feet of detonation cord.

Assisting in the confiscation was a licensed explosives expert from a local company, which also provided a vehicle built to transport explosives.

The department suspended the licenses that allowed Duckels to purchase, store and blast explosives during construction projects because of a May 1 blast within the Silver Spur Subdivision.

Duckels, who may also face criminal charges, can contest the suspension during a hearing that has been scheduled for June 1 in Denver.

Duckels said Tuesday evening he has not made a decision whether he will contest the hearing.

"What they did today was procedural," Duckels said. "At this point, we haven't made any decisions."

Duckels set off a dynamite blast at about noon May 1 within the third phase of the subdivision, which resulted in damage to four homes, two cars and two sheds in the 27000 block of Moonlight Way.

Flying debris also hit a 6-year-old girl in the head. The girl, who was playing with her twin sister in the front yard of a home on the street, suffered minor injuries that did not require medical attention.

Pieces of shale and dirt clumps were sent flying onto the adjacent homes on the north end of Steamboat II.

Because of the incident, blasting at the subdivision has been suspended but is expected to resume today.

According to the six-page suspension, the department alleges Duckels did not get a permit for the blast, did not follow safety regulations and used too much dynamite.

Prior to setting off the dynamite within a 125-foot blast line, Duckels should have obtained a permit from the Steamboat Springs Fire Department, the document states.

Duckels should have also covered the blast line with mats or protective material, the document states.

Dirt clumps and pieces of shale rock that were sent flying because of the blast damaged the roofs and windows of the homes.

The department alleges Duckels used too much dynamite. Duckels used 1,425 pounds of explosive materials, which was placed in 152 "boreholes" averaging 12 feet in depth, the document states.

Duckels also allegedly did not notify residents in the area that dynamite would be detonated, the document states.

The suspension occurred as the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office reviews the incident to determine if Duckels should face criminal charges.

Warner has recommended prosecutors charge Duckels with fourth-degree arson.

Fourth-degree arson is a class four felony if a person is endangered. The charge is a misdemeanor if it involves property.

Warner is expecting a decisions will be made in the next few days.

Warner said Miller Excavating has secured a permit to blast within the subdivision. Warner said he and Struble will be present for the blast, which is expected to happen at about 11 a.m.

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