SLEEPY EYE, Mn. – An eerie silence fell over the small town of Sleepy Eye in southern Minnesota on Wednesday hours after a massive explosion at a gender reveal party left more than 380 people dead and dozens more injured or missing.
Authorities say the gender reveal party, hosted by local newlyweds Stephen and Claire Fulbright, began shortly after 10:30 a.m. CST on the outskirts of the Sleepy Eye Golf Club near Highway 27. “Based on what we’ve been able to piece together, the explosion was likely triggered when Mr. Fulbright attempted to ignite a homemade fireworks display,” FBI Special Agent Eric Hopkins told reporters on Wednesday, adding that the display was assembled using metal salts –which produce colorful fireworks– and “an exorbitant amount” of TNT.
“Stephen was always tinkering with things; he’d built a homemade fusion reactor in his garage that he wanted to use to power the entire town,” Fulbright’s former colleague and longtime friend Corey Newstrom, who was unable to attend the gender reveal party due to a “prior engagement,” told FOX 9 Minneapolis, a local Fox affiliate.
Investigators from the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Emergency Support Team say they recovered a “small amount” of enriched uranium in the Fulbrights’ garage which, due to the limited work space, may have inadvertently come in contact with the gender reveal fireworks display and the five hundred pounds of TNT used to produce it. “If so, it would support the theory that Mr. Fulbright unintentionally split an atom when lighting the fireworks display,” a DOE investigator who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press told Real News Right Now.
The blast, which, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, registered a 3.2 on the Richter Scale, left behind an eighty-foot-deep crater spanning nearly three football fields in diameter and completely destroyed the Sleepy Eye Golf Club and three neighboring farms. Debris and shattered glass from blown out windows littered Main Street as federal investigators donning radiation resistant suits worked tirelessly to determine the extent and range of the nuclear fallout.
“When you have a tragedy involving nuclear radiation, it’s often easy to overlook the long-term effects,” explained Charlie Darby, a chief investigator for the Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “However, despite the magnitude of today’s catastrophic event,” Charlie said, “the real tragedy here is that people are still assuming gender in 2019.”