Boom Goes the Dynamite

Helen Taylor from East Tennessee Cremation Company sent me a Facebook message. She wouldn’t be able to attend the “Fun with Forensics: Adventures in Chemistry” summer camp run by Dr. Al Hazari. Instead, she and her daughter recorded a video tour of the facility for the kids to see.

Frank Murphy interviews Dr. Bill Bass for "Smoky Mountain Morning" video magazine Helen asked if I wanted to attend Tuesday’s session, which included a slide presentation by Dr. Bill Bass. I thought I had a scheduling conflict because I would be shooting segments for Smoky Mountain Morning that day. Then it occurred to me to bring the camera crew to the forensic chemistry camp. I got there early and interviewed both doctors before the students arrived.

Dr. Al Hazari displays a model of a DNA molecule made from Twizzlers and mini-marshmallows Dr. Bill Bass and Dr. Al Hazari with Arabic crime-scene tape My son wasn’t kidding when he said last week that the adults touring the National Forensic Academy did the same DNA exercise as the middle-school kids at forensic chemistry camp. Dr. Hazari displayed one of the Twizzler and marshmallow molecule models when I asked him about it. He also showed me a piece of crime-scene tape written in Arabic.

Before Dr. Bass took the floor, there was a technical glitch with Dr. Hazari’s Power Point presentation. As he worked on the computer, he asked me to say something, anything, to fill the time. Since there were several parents in attendance, I plugged the next fundraiser for the Dr. William M. Bass Forensic Anthropology Center and then asked the kids what TV shows got them interested in forensics. They answered with the obvious choices like “NCIS,” “Bones” and the three “CSI” shows. My ulterior motive was to get them in the right frame of mind for the gruesome slides that they were about to see.

Last year Dr. Bass did a slide show on cremation. Since Helen’s video was covering that topic this year, Dr. Bass presented his slides from the explosion of an illegal fireworks factory in Benton, Tennessee.

In 2008, WTVC and WDEF in Chattanooga aired stories marking the 25th anniversary of the explosion. WDEF also posted some of their stories from the 1983 explosion on YouTube:

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