Friday, May 3, 2013

5 bombs found in Elkhorn Village

Police investigating homemade ‘Drano bomb’ phenomena


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley police provided this photograph of an exploded bottle bomb found this week in Elkhorn Village. A police search of the area located a total of five bottle bombs, four of them that had exploded and one that apparently malfunctioned. Courtesy photo

    Five more homemade bombs, similar to the one found last week in the East Fork area, were found this week in Elkhorn Village. Four had already exploded and one had apparently malfunctioned.
    Sun Valley Interim Police Chief Walt Femling on Thursday described the devices as “bottle bombs” or “Drano bombs,” which build up pressure and explode when Drano and water are sealed in a container with aluminum foil. Femling said all five of the devices contained metal shrapnel, making them potentially deadly weapons when exploding.
Even without shrapnel, the devices could cause serious harm, typically second- or third-degree burns, because the chemical liquid that is ejected has reached boiling. The bombs do not give off flame, but explode with a white smoke or vapor appearance.
The investigation into the Elkhorn bombs started on Monday when a maintenance employee reported a suspicious item found in a pond on the Elkhorn Springs condominium property. Sun Valley police found a plastic soda bottle that was damaged by an explosion. What a police news release describes as “shrapnel” was found in the bottle and the immediate area.
    In a preliminary search of the area, police found another exploded soda bottle nearby, also with shrapnel materials.


“We are grateful that there are no injuries to citizens with this incident.”
Dewayne Briscoe
Sun Valley mayor


    A massive search of the Elkhorn Village area was conducted on Wednesday, involving Sun Valley police, Ketchum police and the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office. Three other devices were found, two that had exploded and one that hadn’t. All three contained shrapnel.
    Femling said the bottles ranged in size from about 20 ounces to about 30 ounces.
    He said police had received several reports from Elkhorn Village residents within the past week and a half about possible gunshots or loud noises in the area where the devices were found.
    According to the news release, the bombs were similar to the one found on Wednesday, April 24, in a mailbox on Hyndman View Drive in the East Fork area south of Ketchum. Sheriff Gene Ramsey said earlier this week that the East Fork bomb had ineffectively exploded before police arrived. It too contained metal shrapnel. Investigation also continues into that incident.

    Femling said the federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agency has thus far declined to become involved in the bomb investigations because of a manpower shortage. He said materials from the Elkhorn devices are being sent to the Idaho State Police crime laboratory for analysis.
The unexploded bomb remained Thursday at the Sun Valley police office. Femling said it didn’t work as intended and there is no concern that it will now explode.
Femling said building Drano bombs is a phenomena occurring nationwide, but that typically they don’t contain metal objects for shrapnel.
Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe said that Sun Valley police remain on “high alert because of this incident and are cooperating with other officials in this investigation.’
    “We are grateful that there are no injuries to citizens with this incident,” Briscoe said.


Public beware
Sun Valley police are recommending that the public beware of bottle bombs or similar devices that might be found. “If you find a soda bottle that shows signs of swelling, has tape, liquid or foil in it, do not touch it and dial 911,” states a police news release. Anyone with information on the devices is asked to call the Sun Valley police at (208) 622-5345 or the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office at (208) 788-5555. A confidential tip can be reported by email through the TIP411 program on the sheriff’s website at www.blainesheriff.com.


Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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