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Navy ammunition truck explodes

Navy ammunition truck explodes

Dec. 19, 1945: A 15-foot-deep crater sits in Rose Canyon Highway near San Diego after a Navy ammunition truck and trailer exploded. Hundreds of homes were damaged in the blast, leaving about 1,000 homeless. Twenty people were injured.

In the next morning’s Los Angeles Times, Tom Cameron reported:

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 19.–Picking their way cautiously through ripped and flattened terrain that clanked underfoot, 200 Navy bomb-disposal men today removed unexploded shells from an area a few miles north of here devastated yesterday by an ammunition truck and trailer blast which shattered houses and left 1000 persons homeless.

While highway and utility companies strove to restore disrupted services and communications, all civilian traffic was detoured around the Rose Canyon cutoff between Torrey Pines and San Diego where a tremendous explosion dug a crater 15 feet deep …

The blast occurred when a Navy truck and trailer, driven by John Ayala, civilian, caught fire on the grade. Ayala ran to La Jolla Junction and gave the alarm.

Authorities immediately evacuated 1000 residents of the nearby Torrey Pines Homes project and warned officials at nearby Camp Matthews, Marine Corps training area, and Camp Callan, an Army installation.

Thanks to the warning, only a score of persons were hurt, all but two of them superficially. …

A revised list issued by the Navy gave the truck’s load as 41 depth charges, 275 3-inch shells, 2920 rounds of 40-mm. ammunition, 12,600 rounds of 20-mm. shells and 57 rockets.

The photo by staff photographer Paul Calvert was published on Page 3 of the Dec. 20, 1945 edition of The Times.

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