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COVER: Austin police detonated an explosive charge believed to have been buried since construction of a flood control dam in the late 1980s at the Lower Purgatory Creek Natural Area, which has been closed since the Halloween flood in October 2015. PHOTO by LAURA DIETRICH/THE UNIVERSITY STAR.


2:37 p.m. FRIDAY, FEB. 5  |  San Marcos officials believe explosives detonated in a San Marcos park on Thursday was left there more than two decades ago during construction of a flood control dam on Purgatory Creek, city spokesperson Trey Hatt said today.

Construction of the dam began in May 1987 and was completed in 1989. It is one of five federally funded flood control dams built upstream of the city to tame Sink and Purgatory creeks, the San Marcos River’s uppermost tributaries.

From the archives

Graphic: Map showing flood control dam locations | 06/16/08

Graphic: Details of five San Marcos flood control dams | 06/16/08


5:19 p.m. THURSDAY, FEB. 4  |  An explosive charge believed to be left over from a construction project was detonated in Lower Purgatory Creek Natural Area today after it was located this morning by San Marcos park rangers, city spokesperson Trey Hatt said.

A bore hole in a rock outcropping was two to three inches in diameter with several wires sticking out, Hatt said.

Park rangers, a division of Fire Marshal Ken Bell’s office, began looking for the hole after it was reported on Wednesday, Feb. 3 by a member of the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance, who heard about the hole and gave city staff a description and general location. Officials believe the bore hole had been buried for years before being uncovered by floodwaters during the Halloween flood in October last year, Hatt said.

3:15 p.m. THURSDAY, FEB. 4  |  The Austin Police Department’s bomb squad detonated what officers believed to be an old explosive charge left over from flood control dam construction in the Lower Purgatory Creek Natural Area on Thursday afternoon.

Between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Feb. 4, a man who was trespassing in the closed park found several wires sticking out of a rubble pile about 100 yards away from the Wonder World extension overpass and called San Marcos police.

San Marcos police called for assistance from APD’s bomb squad, which arrived at noon and conducted a small, controlled detonation at 1 p.m. to destroy any explosive that might have been attached to the wires.

The detonation was small and posed no threat to the public or to nearby property.

Lower Purgatory Creek Natural Area remains closed while city crews and volunteers repair the extensive damage caused by last year’s flooding. Upper Purgatory Creek Natural Area and Prospect Park, which are adjacent to the closed park, are open to the public.

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