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Several local tv outlets will be live streaming (did stream) the controlled burn at 9am pacific time (noon eastern) 11am pacific (2pm eastern). I’ll be teaching class at that time, so someone let me know if it’s uneventful or, er, eventful.





On November 19, a gardener for Escondido, CA, resident George Djura Jakubec was walking in the backyard when he stepped on something causing it to detonate. The explosion caused burns and abrasions up one leg, under one arm, and on his head and eyebrows, and he was hospitalized.

Officers started searching the yard and home… then quickly retreated when they found numerous explosive compounds and explosive-making materials in and around the house. According to various reports, items found on the property include:

9-12 pounds (4-6 Kg) of homemade HMTD, PETN, and ETN (which authorities claim may be the largest discovery of its type on US soil…)13 grenades9 detonatorsbags of metal pieces and ball bearingssemiautomatic weaponsseveral gallons of nitric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid50 pounds (23 Kg) of hexaminebooks about explosivesa tracker hidden in currency during bank robberies

And then they decided to call off the search because the house was too unsafe for offices. Who knows what else may be in un-searched corners of the house.

Not surprisingly, Jakubec, a naturalized US citizen originally from Serbia, is in jail on $5 million bail and is charged with more than 25 felonies relating to explosives and bank robbery. He pleaded not guilty.

Officials say there is no safe way to remove all the explosives from the house, so the best way to neutralize the danger is to burn the house to the ground. They plan to evacuate 200 homes, build temporary fire-safe walls between the house and its neighbors, spray the wall and neighboring houses with fire-retardant foam, pre-heat the house so it ignites quickly, then start a fire. They plan to wait until a time after morning rush hour when the winds are calm before starting the fire. They will need to close part of nearby interstate 15 because of the house’s proximity to the highway. Gov. Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency for San Diego County.


Update (12/4): The North County Times is releasing images taken from inside the house. Very disturbing. Very disturbing indeed. It’s like that one episode of CSI where almost the exact same thing happened. They’re clearing the house, when the one CSI opens a fridge in the garage. Then he slowly says to the other CSIs in that low, dramatic tone of voice. ‘stop what you’re doing and slowly walk out of the house.’ They ended up doing the same thing to that house, only they detonated the explosives and esploded the house instead of lighting it on fire. Click the image for all 12 pictures.

News Stories:

11/21 story on initial searches of house11/23 story on suspect and house searches11/24 story on family history of suspect11/30 story on decision to burn down house11/30 story on execution of search warrant and list of items found in houseThe search warrant12/2 story on preparations to community for burning down the house12/2 story on safety preparations being taken before burning down the house

Posts linking to this one

You may have seen the recent article by Jyllian Kemsley (C&EN) on how authorities dealt with what they called the largest cache of homemade explosives ever found in the U.S. (See also here and here.) George Djura Jakubecs home was so infested with explosives...
...would officials burn a house filled with explosives. I'm not going to go into the details, The Chem Blog covers them quite well. I would strongly suggest reading that entry. The short story is that police found a house with an unknown quantity of explosives...
Escondido boom-boom house: Hey, that's a nice balance there! (Can you find it?) (Credit: C&EN/San Diego County Sheriff)A lot of you will remember the story of the San Diego house filled with explosives. Jyllian Kemsley writes up the interagency operation...