Bullets in a Dania Beach house were close to shooting off when firefighters responded to a deadly blaze there this week, an official said.
More than 100 guns and case after case of ammunition were recovered from the house where Tad Vaughn died in a fire Wednesday. Authorities said they believe he killed himself.
"What we don't know, is what's contained in a person's home and that's one of the biggest dangers we have," Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Assistant District Chief Bruce Caruso said.
Vaughn was a gun collector and had pieces dating all the way back to World War I. Along with all of the weapons, he also had quite a bit of ammunition. All of it was in the house when it went up in flames.
"The ammunition was already starting to degrade from the heat," Caruso said. "It wasn't only the box that melted. The ammunition itself was near the point where it would've gone off."
Neighbor Gloria Lawson told NBC 6, "I was standing in front of his house before the fire department got here. I had no idea there was such danger, imminent danger.”
Thanks to Vaughn's neighbor and friend Frank Lopes, firefighters were aware of the potential explosive situation.
"I said the man was a gun collector and there could be ammunition in the house," Lopes said. "When I told them that, that's when they cleared the roads and got everybody out of the neighborhood and told me to go back in my house."
Caruso said that's when crews started what is called a defense attack. Firefighters stayed back a bit and took cover when they could.
Propane tanks were also found around the home, but firefighters say those weren't as big as a threat as the bullets that were seconds away from shooting off.
Broward detectives said Vaughn did not intend to hurt anyone.
Caruso said to prevent problems like this, store ammunition in a fireproof case, and keep gasoline in a similar kind of container away from the home or garage.
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