Blast Investigation Closes I-15

A mile stretch of the highway through Escondido is closed for three hours

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The investigation into an explosion in an Escondido neighborhood shut down a one-mile stretch of Interstate 15 on Friday.

    An explosion in the backyard of a home in unincorporated Escondido severely injured landscaper Mario Garcia, 49 Thursday.
    According to San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies, Garcia was working at a home in the 1950 block of Via Scott when he stepped on something that exploded.

    Escondido Blast Victim's Family Shares Story

    [DGO] Escondido Blast Victim's Family Shares Story
    An explosion in the backyard of a home in unincorporated Escondido severely injured landscaper Mario Garcia, 49 Thursday. According to San Diego County Sheriff's deputies, Garcia was working at a home in the 1950 block of Via Scott when he stepped on something that exploded.

    Investigators worked overnight gathering evidence. At one point they used a remote controlled robot to examine the site.

    Caltrans shut down I-15 southbound lanes from Centre City Parkway to El Norte Parkway beginning at about 11.15 a.m. Originally, the closure was expected to include both directions and begin at 9 a.m. but that plan was adjusted in the morning. After an hours-long delay, officials reopened all but one lane of the freeway.

    Raw Video: Explosion Probe Closes I-15

    [DGO] Raw Video: Explosion Probe Closes I-15
    Travelers headed south on Interstate 15 ran into a snarl on Friday caused by the discovery of explosives in unincorporated Escondido.

    The members of the San Diego Sheriff's Department Bomb-Arson Squad rushed out to the home just before 1 p.m. Thursday after reports that a resident had been injured when he stepped on something. Within an hour, deputies had the property cordoned off while they conducted their investigation.

    A neighbor told NBCSanDiego that the explosion rattled the blinds in her house.

    "There was a loud explosion, and it shook my windows," said neighbor Lauranell Latulippe.

    Latulippe said she went outside afterward, but, since she didn't see any smoke or hear any screaming, went and picked up her kids at school. She said the explosion was very loud, similar to the noise made when a transformer blows up.

    Raw Video: Sheriff Dept. Discusses Explosion

    [DGO] Raw Video: Sheriff Dept. Discusses Explosion
    Spokeswoman Jan Caldwell discusses an explosion in North County on Thursday.

    "The homeowner had a couple of people working in the back yard, doing some landscaping or work in the yard, and one of them reports stepping on something, and then, right after that, there was a blast," said Sheriff's department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell. "Injuries were consistent with some sort of explosive device. Injuries are on the left side of the person's body."

    Deputies said the injured man was taken to a Palomar Medical Center with cuts and lacerations. His injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

    Garcia's son, Mario Garcia, Jr., said he's grateful his father is alive.

    "Someone like my dad who is very loving and caring and thoughtful," he said. "I don't think anyone would do this intentionally to hurt him."

    The man who rented the home, George Jakubec, 54, was arrested on charges of possession of destructive material and unlawful possession of explosives.

    The Contractors State License Board online records indicate Jakubec held a building contractor's license in California from 1988 to 1992, and owned a business in Ramona, according to our media partners the North County Times.