July 10, 1926: A bolt of lightning at the Picatinny Army Arsenal in northern NJ triggered a massive explosion in an ammunition dump on July 10, 1926, triggering three major explosions within half an hour in the early evening hours that killed 22 people and injuring dozens more. The Morris County, NJ News reports that the historic fire of 1926 raged throughout the night, fueled by exploding military shells that set more fires across the landscape surrounding the 6,400-acre base in Morris County. For the next three days, a series of minor explosions followed as the blaze devoured much of the base. The remaining flames were finally doused by rain on July 13. The initial blasts at the Arsenal depot, could be felt as far as 30 miles away. Every building within a half mile was leveled by the blast. Debris landed as far as 22 miles away and over 100 million of 2020 dollars of damage was done. This is the costliest damage due to lightning in the United States. In an odd twist an "unexploded ordnance" unearthed in late February of 2020 at a Picatinny Arsenal site was a relic from a deadly explosion that rocked the military munitions base nearly a century ago.
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