Roads were closed and six homes in a one-block radius were evacuated Thursday as members of the Douglas-Tahoe Bomb Squad detonated a suspicious liquid found in bottles labeled "glycerine," which turned out to be harmless.
The bottles, believed to be from the 1930s, were discovered in a shed behind a home in the 800 block of Koontz Lane by the son of the man who once lived there.
"I've known about the bottles for about two years, but after (the terrorists attacks on) Sept. 11, I thought I should get rid of them, in case they are (nitroglycerine)," said Dave Helgren, who inherited his father's property after his death. "I was trying to go about it quietly."
The incident was anything but quiet, however, as about seven Carson City Sheriff's Department deputies, an ambulance and the Carson City Fire Department surrounded the home for about three hours in anticipation of the detonation of two blasting caps placed near the bottles on Helgren's 1-1/2 -acre lot.
Battalion Chief Dan Shirey made telephone calls to the Pentagon and Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland in an attempt to determine the force of the blast if the liquid turned out to be nitroglycerine, the main explosive component in dynamite.
"No one seems to know," he said. "But it's less than that of a pound of C-4 (plastic explosive)."
A pound of C-4, he said, would affect a 350-foot radius of the blast area.
At 3:45 p.m., the first of the two explosions, which sounded like thuds, was set off, followed shortly by the second one.
"The more I think about it," Helgren said, "the more I remember my granddad had a drugstore back east, and I think the bottles might be glycerine."
Glycerine is the basis for soaps and lotions, as well as for nitroglycerine.