Sounds of explosions in Lawrence prompt many questions but few answers

Share this post or save for later

Some residents of Lawrence have been rattled — figuratively and sometimes literally — by sounds of explosions recently.

On Sunday, many residents and nervous pets, primarily in southeastern Lawrence, heard one or more explosive sounds. Some in the Prairie Park neighborhood said their homes shook from the mysterious booms.


Maureen Brady, a spokesperson for the City of Lawrence, said via email Monday that she had checked with a few teams at the city but didn’t have much information available.

“Our police have gotten a few calls from residents reporting loud noises in the past week … but officers did not find anything amiss in those areas following the calls,” she said. “Our Municipal Services & Operations team is also unaware of any explosions in town.”

In October 2019, some residents in west Lawrence reported to the city that they were hearing booming sounds coming from underground. City staff determined the sound was coming from a faulty gas valve for a pool heater.

But Lawrence resident Brandon Eller said explosions he’s heard over the past couple of months don’t seem to be coming from one specific location, but rather all over town at various points in time.

A look at the Lawrence Police Department’s blotter over the past two months shows almost two dozen reports of gunshots fired or heard, and six reports of sounds of explosions. Those records show that some of the explosions, including Sunday’s, have not been reported to law enforcement.

Sounds of explosions are indicated in burgundy on the map below; reports of gunshots heard or fired are shown in gray. Mouse over or tap on a data point for the time and date that each report was made.

Click here to open the map in a separate window.

Eller — who said he heard about eight explosion sounds between 1 and 4 p.m. Sunday — said he’s been trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on but hasn’t managed to get many answers. The different locations and time frames make it difficult to pinpoint a single source. He hopes the city will figure it out, and he’s concerned, in part because the sounds have “scared the heck out of my pets,” he said.


A few other explosive incidents in recent memory have raised concerns for local folks. A loud boom at the Evergy power plant in the spring was from a turbine malfunction. That caused a small fire that was quickly extinguished, and there were no injuries, a company spokesperson said at the time.

In July, the Kansas Highway Patrol used the since-demolished Oldfather Studios building for explosives training. Though the training was planned, many residents weren’t warned ahead of time; a KHP spokesperson said that’s because oftentimes members of the public want to watch, and that can create safety concerns. 

Brady said residents can call the nonemergency dispatch line to report if they hear explosions in the future. That phone number is 785-832-7509.

Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters

Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

More coverage:

Previous Article

Kaw Valley Almanac for Dec. 27, 2021-Jan. 2, 2022

Next Article

KDHE reporting 10,000 Delta cases, two dozen Omicron cases of COVID-19 in Kansas