Dynamite is safely removed
December 6, 2012
By 5 a.m. Wednesday, old, potentially unstable dynamite found in a Bath Street house was safely removed, and two bomb squads, bomb-sniffing dogs, the fire department, the sheriff’s office and the public works road blocks were gone from the location one street and a row of houses away from Fritsch Elementary School.All the hubbub started Tuesday afternoon when an elderly man, who wasn’t named by authorities, told Sheriff Ken Furlong that he left dynamite in the walls of the garage at the house in the 300 block of Bath Street more than 20 years ago.The man walked into the Sheriff’s Office with a younger man, and after the younger man’s business had been dealt with, asked to talk to the sheriff alone.“As soon as the kid left the room, he asked for a piece of paper,” Furlong said, adding that the elderly man wrote down the address of the house he once owned and said he forgot to remove up to a case of dynamite when he sold the property. He didn’t know whether it was in the east or north wall of the garage, and didn’t recall how old the dynamite was. Furlong said it could have been up to 50 years old.The man also told the sheriff he had screwed plywood up on the walls to hide the dynamite and would unscrew them when he wanted to retrieve a stick. What the dynamite was used for wasn’t disclosed.By 2:50 p.m. Tuesday, first responders were at the house, which had been unoccupied for the past six months. They spotted plywood panels in the garage, but they had been nailed rather than screwed in place.They pried back one piece of plywood and found nothing. When a second piece of plywood was pulled back, a tube-like package fell several feet to the ground, startling the officers who knew the dangers of old, unstable dynamite. They then requested diesel fuel and doused the package to end the threat of an explosion by stabilizing what turned out to be three sticks of dynamite inside.Officers created a 150-foot safe zone and evacuated four adjacent houses. The Tahoe Douglas Bomb Squad began to X-ray the walls. About 9 p.m. Tuesday, the Consolidated Bomb Squad, manned by officers from Truckee Meadows and elsewhere, was brought in to assist. Their X-raying capability was much greater, Furlong said.In addition to the scanning equipment, a Reno K-9 unit was brought in to sniff the walls. Officers found no more dynamite and transported the original three sticks to the top of King’s Canyon to be burned on city-owned land, he said. Streets around the area were closed for the duration of the night and were reopened early in the morning.Residents were able to return to their homes once the area was determined to be safe.Criminal charges are not anticipated, and the identity of the reporting person is not being immediately released, according to Furlong.Dynamite is found or turned in about once a year, on average, according to the sheriff’s office.“It’s not common” to find dynamite “but it’s not unexpected,” Furlong said. Dynamite ownership and use many years ago was common.“It’s just something that was,” he said.