Hendersonville FD: blast site didn't have renewed safety inspection

Fire marshal said blasting permits had expired
Rocks from blasting in Hendersonville
Posted at 9:11 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 23:14:39-04

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Hendersonville fire marshal said the company behind a construction blast that sent rock falling from the sky into at least three homes on Monday didn't have a current blasting permit.

New videos from homes in the Stonecrest subdivision off Saundersville Road in Hendersonville show the moments after the blast — when rock fragments started raining down in the neighborhood.

The blast was carried out by H & H Constructors as part of a new next-door home development.

In the video, the rocks fly so fast it's hard to spot them. But in one frame, a rock projectile is clearly seen flying through the air, about to impale a garage door.

As the dust clears in the video, neighbors try to figure out what's going on.

While blasting in the area had been going on for two years, neighbors said this was the first time fragments blasted off the work site into the air. Even a day later, rocks from the blast were still visible in the neighborhood, lying on the ground.

The Hendersonville fire marshal said Tuesday that while H & H Constructors had taken out a valid blasting permit for the site in the Fall, it had expired ahead of Monday's blast.

Fire Marshal Paul Varble said his agency conducts a required safety inspection as part of every new or renewed blasting permit, meaning the blast site went without that safety inspection in the months before Monday's accident.

"We did not go do a safety inspection on this project because we did not know they were there," Varble said.

Monday's blast sent a rock that Wendy Mocko estimates at 20 pounds through her ceiling, landing at the foot of her staircase.

"If it had been just minutes before, I would have been walking out, getting ready to go to work," Mocko said.

The owner of H & H Constructors, Kingsley Hooper, said Tuesday he wasn't aware his company's blasting permit for the site had expired.

"This is an administrative oversight," Hooper said. "We have maintained the same safety measures on-site throughout the duration of the project, so there would have been no reason for the City to deny a renewal of the permit."

Hooper said seismic readings showed the power of yesterday's blast was within legal limits and the same strength as other blasts that have been going on for two years.

"The incident that occurred Monday would seem to be a freak accident and we are analyzing our internal procedures to prevent this happening again," Hooper said.

The fire marshal said it's clear the impact of yesterday's blast was far different from anything that's happened there before.

"We were very lucky nobody got hurt in the neighborhood," Varble said. "There was a large amount of rock that flew off that site and could have hurt or killed someone yesterday."

The fire marshal said the company will have to submit a corrective action plan before being able to blast again, and could still face citations from both the city and state.