Dozens of homes will be evacuated and thousands of vehicles detoured this week when a home crawling with explosives burns to the ground.
Explosives were found in the house at 1954 Via Scott in unincorporated Escondido several weeks ago after a gardener was injured in the back yard in an explosion. An indictment was filed Thursday in federal court against George Djura Jakubec, 54. He pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges that he knowingly made and possessed destructive devices, including nine detonators and 13 grenade hulls with unknown quantities of high explosives, including Hexamethylene Tiperoxide Diamine (HMTD), Pentaerythitol Tetranitrate and Erythritol Tetranitrate. He pleaded not guilty to all charges on Monday.
Last week, authorities announced they would burn the structure to the ground in an effort to "cook off" the explosives safely, rather than having them detonate.
Officials said on Tuesday that the residents of a couple of dozens homes inside an evacuation zone around the Via Scott location in Escondido will have to be temporarily relocated, and the occupants of about 100 other houses were issued orders to shelter in place to avoid exposure to any chemical pollution created by the burn.
Officials installed signs along Interstate 15 on Tuesday, alerting travelers that the roadway will be closed in both directions while the burn is conducted. The CHP will begin shutting down the freeway (from state Route 78 to Centre City Parkway) at about 9 a.m. on Thursday. They are hopeful the I-15 will only remain closed for an hour, but it could be longer, depending on how long fire officials say the situation is unsafe. While there will be detours onto city streets during the closure, the CHP is urging drivers to leave early for their commute on the day of the burn, and to stay out of the area during the closure if at all possible.
On Tuesday, sheriff's deputies handed out fliers around the neighborhood, informing people of the evacuation plans. According to a map on the sheriff department’s website, some businesses less than 1 mile away will not have to be evacuated, nor will they be inside the shelter-in-place zone.
Just two days before the burn, David Mizell, the owner of Killer Pizza from Mars, did not seem to fully understand what was expected of him during the burn.
"So, I'm not sure if we're going to have to shut down or if we're going to maybe just be open and be a refugee camp for those who have to leave their houses," Mizell said. "So it could turn out good, it could turn out bad -- I don't know."
Jeanne Tillery, a co-owner of Sisters Gifts, said she is planning on remaining open during the burn.
"My only concern is just to make the neighbors safe and get it done.... I’m not afraid of it," Tillery said. "The firemen and all seem to say that is the only way to do it."
Deputies will start going door-to-door about 7 p.m. the night before the fire to make sure everyone knows the plan.
Residents affected by the burning of the so-called bomb house are being to called 211 about 3 p.m. on Thursday to find out if authorities have given the OK for them to return to their homes.