Monday, October 25, 2010

Fort Knox is Burning

Over the weekend, a massive fire-fighting effort has been underway to douse the flames that have been sweeping hundreds of acres at Fort Knox. No one's certain how it started, but some are saying that the fires probably started after tracer rounds were fired during military exercises. This is ammo enhanced with pyrotechnic materials that allow the paths of the projectiles to be clearly seen as they sail through the air.

According to the Courier-Journal, at least 87 drops of water have been performed by Blackhawk helicopters. There's conflicting reports online at the moment, some saying that the fires have all been contained, while others indicate that some are still burning. Fire departments that have provided assistance include Bullitt County, Flaherty, Lebanon Junction, Nichols, PRP, Rineyville, and Zoneton.

Another fire, at the Fort Duffield Civil War Park in West Point, KY, is believed to have been also sparked by the Fort Knox conflagration. According to WHAS:

The WHAS11 crew walked up a hill inside the park to get a closer look at the now-controlled flames and saw firsthand the damage the fire caused. The blaze was so hot, it did something no one working the fire said they had ever seen before; melted a portion of one man’s helmet.

The considerable smoke lingering over the southern part of Jefferson County has been very bad to breathe, with air quality ratings in Valley Station reaching undesirable levels.

The Kentucky Forestry Division reports that 42 fires in 31 counties occurred last week. 15 of those were in Rockcastle County, where
Judge-Executive Buzz Carloftis issued a total ban on all open fires, including trash fires, camp bonfires, and controlled burnoffs on public and private land.

In addition to being a major training base for the U.S. Army, Fort Knox also supposedly houses the nation's gold bullion supply. I say "supposedly" because there's been a growing concern in some circles that the gold is actually missing. There have been reports of "gold" ingots discovered to be composed primarily of tungsten, a metal whose weight is close enough to gold for the brick to pass the flotation test.

There have been repeated calls for an independent audit of Fort Knox's gold since the Reagan administration, but the Federal Reserve has stonewalled these efforts each time. And as market analyst Gary North wisely notes, the Fed may have good reason to be in damage-control mode, as a chain reaction of worldwide financial upheaval could ensue:

"If all the gold is not there, there will be enormous pressure from voters on governments around the world to audit the gold reserves of their central banks. If the gold held in trust by the New York Fed is not there, foreign voters will conclude that their governments' gold may not be there either."

Things may be getting even hotter for Fort Knox if the gold-audit proponents get their way, and that's a fire that shows no signs of being put out.

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