Let it Burn: California ‘Bomb’ House Being DestroyedDecember 9, 2010 - 3:02 PM | by: Anita Vogel
Officials say it’s the largest cache of homemade explosives ever found in a single location in the US. They were found inside a house in the suburban Escondido neighborhood just north of San Diego, which is now being called “the bomb” house.
The man renting the home, 54 year old George Jakubec has pleaded not- guilty to a series of federal charges for possessing and manufacturing explosives as well as bank robbery. The indictment says investigators recovered nine detonators, 13 grenade hulls and unknown quantities of high explosives.
The high explosives include PETN -used by the military and by the failed shoe bomber-and HMTD, described as “exceedingly shock sensitive” and potentially ignited by merely opening the container in which it is stored.
They were found in large quantities in mason jars and containers filled with liquids and white powders packed from floor to ceiling in the home as well as strewn across the floor in clumps. Neal Langerman, a chemical expert for Advanced Chemical Safety, said that Jakubec could have taken out the entire neighborhood in one fell swoop with the amount of explosives he possessed
Authorities decided that the extreme danger these hazardous materials present, burning the house down is their only option. More than 50 agencies, including bomb squads and hazardous material experts have elaborately planned the burning taking place today and have taken strict measures to make it effective and safe.
The bomb squad and Fire Department will ignite remote control incendiary devices to set the fire, which is intended to reach upwards of 1800 degrees. If all goes as planned the fire will neutralize the toxic chemicals in the home in about 30 minutes and will simply look like a home fire.
A 16ft firewall made out of dry wall was erected and covered in fire gel to protect the surrounding homes. HAZMAT has put in place dozens of air monitors in the vicinity to determine if the weather conditions comply. Winds of less than 5 miles per hour are necessary to go forward with the burn to ensure that the smoke -expected to reach several thousand feet high—will travel upwards preventing any toxic chemicals it contains from affecting surrounding areas.
The main highway I-15 running just behind the neighborhood has been shut down since early this morning and will remain closed until it is deemed safe to reopen.
Evacuations began last night. Sheriff’s deputies, Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Volunteers and Escondido Police officers knocked on doors to urge residents in more than 60 homes to leave and seek shelter at designated evacuation sites.
Scores of ambulances, HAZMAT vehicles, bomb squads, local law enforcement and fire officials line the street on standby in the event of any problems.
This all began when authorities responded to a call on November 18th when a gardener working on the home ignited an explosive by simply stepping on it and suffered critical injuries.
Jakubec was an unemployed software engineer, living with his wife who described him as obsessed with his chemical “hobby.”
In total, nine pounds worth of explosives were removed from the home by authorities. With the criminal investigation still underway, there is no telling what Jakubec intended to do with these hazardous materials.
Nicole Busch contributed to this report.