LUKEVILLE — As radios crackled, an explosives safety specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers yelled a warning.
"Fire in the hole!"
Seconds later, a series of 86 explosives buried underground detonated, rippling along the surface for 250 feet up the steep slope of Monument Hill, located within the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument along the U.S.-Mexico border in southwestern Arizona, sending clouds of white smoke and dust up in the air.
It lasted less than a minute, before winds carried off the smoke and dust.
The controlled blast, the fifth so far at Monument Hill, was meant to loosen up rocks immediately adjacent to the international boundary with Mexico as part of new border fencing the Trump administration is constructing.
Border Patrol officials demonstrated controlled detonations near the border as the Tohono O'odham Nation chairman prepared to testify to Congress. The Republic | azcentral.com
Federal officials say the new fencing is needed to help stop migrants and drug smugglers from entering the U.S. along that stretch of the border.
But less than an hour after the blast, Ned Norris Jr., the chairman of the Tohono Oʼodham Nation, which straddles the U.S.-Mexico border, told lawmakers in Washington, D.C., nearly 2,400 miles away, that the border fencing project endangers sacred sites within the path of the new barriers.
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