News Release

Successful Operation to Remove Blasting Caps from Remote Cave

Photo of the an evaluation being conducted by bomb squad technicians in Ogle Cave.
Evaluation being conducted by bomb squad technicians in Ogle Cave.

NPS/Dave Brumbaugh

Subscribe RSS Icon | What is RSS
News Release Date: March 22, 2022

Contact: Laura Steele, Acting Chief Ranger/Incident Commander, 575-236-1426

Rangers at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, assisted by multiple federal and local agencies, conducted an operation on March 11 to investigate and remove six boxes labeled “blasting caps” from Ogle Cave. Prior to the operation it was unknown if the boxes contained explosives. 

This difficult and potentially dangerous operation required teams to hike 1.25 miles into the park’s remote backcountry, rappel down 180 feet into the mouth of Ogle Cave, and hike another 45-minutes within the cave to reach the blasting cap boxes. After reaching the boxes, the bomb squads used a portable X-ray device and discovered the best outcome—all blasting cap boxes were empty. 

“In most situations, when potential explosive materials are identified, access is relatively straightforward for an explosives team to assess and address the situation,” said Acting Chief Ranger and Incident Commander Laura Steele. "The difficulty of the terrain, weather, and obstacles leading to the potential explosives created a unique challenge.” Snow fell as teams rappelled into the cave to conduct the assessment.

Blasting caps were used in the early 20th century during the Ogle Cave guano mining operation in an attempt to open a tunnel from inside the cave to the surface. The goal was to bypass hauling the guano back up the 180-foot entrance pit. The guano miners never completed the tunnel. 

National Park Service employees led the operation, assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Bomb Squad; Federal Bureau of Investigations Bomb Squad; New Mexico State Police Bomb Squad; Carlsbad Fire Department; Eddy County Fire and Rescue; Trans Aero Medevac and the Regional Emergency Dispatch Authority.  

“The level of cooperation between agencies during both the planning and execution of this incident was outstanding” said Steele. “We would not have been able to safely accomplish this mission without the teamwork of our partnering agencies.”  

Carlsbad Caverns National Park preserves and protects over 120 caves, including Carlsbad Cavern, and one of the most northern parts of the Chihuahuan Desert. Reservations are required to enter Carlsbad Cavern and are available by calling 877-444-6777 or visiting www.recreation.gov



Last updated: March 31, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad , NM 88220

Phone:

575 785-2232

Contact Us

Tools

Stay Connected