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Home​NewsNew Year's Day Explosion in Navy Yard

New Year’s Day Explosion in Navy Yard

2023 started off with a literal bang.

Folks all over the District were shocked by the sound of an apparent explosion about 10:35 p.m. New Year’s Day. The explosion was loud enough to have been heard East of the River and in Brookland.

The explosion also took down branches from the nearby tree. Photo: Maureen Cohen Harrington

It originated on the ice rink at Canal Park. “We found evidence of damage in the form of broken glass over by the skating rink at 202 M St SE,” a DC Fire Emergency Medical Services (DC Fire EMS) representatives said. “Our incident commander advised it is an MPD matter. There was no fire involved.” No injuries were reported. Fire units began to be returned to stations starting at around 10:55 p.m.

Maureen Cohen Harrington said her house on Virginia Avenue shook so hard and for so long that she thought that a train had derailed in the Virginia Avenue tunnel. “My cat ran to his top secret hiding place,” she said.

Photos taken by Harrington at the scene show a large hole in the ice of the skating rink. A panel of glass is missing, apparently blown out of the barrier around the rink.

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is investigating. In addition to police, DC Fire said that fire investigators have been called to the scene.

Several DC FEMS crews converged on Canal Park Jan. 1 after a blast was heard from Northeast to Southeast just around 10:40 p.m. Photo: Maureen Cohen Harrington

Matt Thornton is a Navy Yard resident. He was sitting in his apartment when the explosion shook his living room windows. Neighbors went in the direction of the noise, quickly observing a plume of smoke from the area of Canal Park, about 5 blocks from his home.

He was there when firefighters arrived, he said, and smoke dissipated quickly. Firefighters appeared to think it had been a large firework. But Thornton pointed out the far reach of the sound, which he knew had been heard by folks in Kingman Park, as well as the damage to the thick tempered glass and metal frame of the barrier.

“I kind of laughed and said, ‘there is no way that this was a firework’,” he recounted, “and one of the firefighters I was talking to showed how large it could be with his hand and said, ‘well it might have been like a half stick of dynamite –we don’t know.”

Police later tweeted that they also believed the damage was caused by a large firework.

Thornton said the neighborhood is seeing an uptick in assaults on the street, carjackings and even doors being kicked by juveniles, apparently for fun. “I’m wondering if this is another list of things we now need to be concerned about in our neighborhood, is someone throwing sticks of dynamite around for fun.”

Police are investigating. Anyone with information or potential video of the incident is asked to call 202-727-9099 or text the anonymous tip line at 50411.

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