Torching "Bomb Factory" Is Best Plan: Sheriff

By R. Stickney and Mari Payton
|  Thursday, Dec 2, 2010  |  Updated 7:10 AM PDT
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Nick Vent from the <a title=San Diego County Department of Environmental Health walks residents through two zones on a map of the area surrounding Via Scott in unincorporated Escondido. Officials plan to torch the home containing a stockpile of explosives." />

Nick Vent from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health walks residents through two zones on a map of the area surrounding Via Scott in unincorporated Escondido. Officials plan to torch the home containing a stockpile of explosives.

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Residents living near the so-called "bomb factory" and its large stockpile of highly explosive material were told Tuesday night that law enforcement officials plan to set fire to the home in unincorporated Escondido.

Experts told more than 200 people at a forum held inside a San Marcos middle school that destroying the home at 1954 Via Scott is their best option. Images taken by bomb techs inside the home show the hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, or HMTD in containers and on the floor.

Depending on the weather, San Diego County Sheriff's deputies could set fire to the home as early as next week. They say they will aim to begin after the morning commute around 9 :30 a.m. between Dec. 8 -10 and plan to close nearby Interstate 15 during the operation.

Deputies couldn't say exactly how many people this will affect.

Temporary barriers will be built first, protecting properties closet to the site, according to deputies with the bomb/arson unit.

Alan Haghighi's home is one of them. He lives at 1940 Via Scott.

“They are going to gel down our home with fire retardant gel," Haghighi said. "They are going to cut down trees that could be a hazard.”

Using the reverse 911 system, deputies will alert homeowners in the surrounding neighborhood to evacuate about 24 hours before the match is lighted.

Others not in the immediate hazard zone are also urged to take precautions.

“Please stay in your home, shut all your windows and doors, lock them and take off the air condition, heaters,” said San Marcos Fire Chief Todd Newman.

Some residents questioned the approach.

One woman who addressed the officials during the forum said, “ I am very appalled about any fire you guys are considering.”

Robin Martin, a resident who said he also lived near the home, stood up and angrily left the meeting, our media partners at the North County Times reported. Martin told the panel, "I'm out of here because you guys have no clue what you're doing."

Others said they just want to return to their normal lives.

One resident, whose home on Sonya Place is located in the yellow area of the map shown by deputies, felt the forum was helpful.

"They know what's going on," said neighbor Joy ColClough after the meeting. "It's concerning a little bit because of the smoke and debris but they seem to have everything under control."

"They're the experts," she said. "So I'm not really worried about anything getting out of control." 

The bomb-making materials were discovered Nov. 18 after gardener Mario Garcia, 49, was injured while working in the back yard of the home on Via Scott in unincorporated Escondido.

North County resident George Jakubec, 54, faces 28 criminal counts, most related to possession of explosives connected to what was discovered on the property. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains in San Diego County jail on $5 million bail.

The criminal investigation was not discussed at the community meeting. No motive has been revealed concerning why Jakubec had been stockpiling the explosives.

Click here for the map of the evacuation and shelter inside areas. 

Click here for the presentation from the community forum.

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