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DATE: September 6, 2007

INCIDENT TYPE: Explosive Device Found by Adopt-A-Highway Group

LOCATION: District 10


THE INCIDENT: A District 10 Adopt-A-Highway volunteer group found a suspicious looking item while picking up litter in their adopted section. It was about the size of a coke can and wrapped in duct tape and tire tread material. It was approximately 6" long and 3" in diameter. What caused the AAH volunteer to become suspicious was not only the shape, but also how tightly it was wrapped in duct tape! While there were no visible wires or fuses of any type, the volunteer realized that this was something not to touch! It had been placed just off the roadway, at the bottom of the cutbank. Through our safety training and prior military experience, the volunteer realized that anything shaped like a cylinder and wrapped in duct tape meant trouble! He quickly backed away, called the CHP, who then in turn called the Sheriff. After questioning the AAH volunteer, the road was closed; the object was x-rayed and detonated. The resulting explosion took out 13 sandbags.

CONCLUSIONS: The group correctly followed our instructions regarding suspicious items and called the CHP, not Caltrans. The CHP bomb squad identified it as a fire-starter type of bomb and exploded it. Few bombs are made with telltale signs; most have switches/igniters that are placed within the device and not visible from the outside. Any pipe/PVC found should be considered suspicious and not be touched or moved. The investigation into this incident is still ongoing.

RECOMMENDATIONS: All employees, volunteer groups, contractors, Special Programs Personnel, etc. should be reminded of the proper procedures for handling suspicious items discovered during their work. Properly identify any material or object before handling, it may be hazardous. Also review your local list of people to contact when a suspicious item is discovered. The discovery of an explosive device (or any other potentially injurious item) should be treated in much the same manner as a hazardous materials spill. For the basics of hazardous materials response always remember the acronym SIN from first responder training:

S - Think safety (first, last and always)
I -- Safely attempt to isolate and deny entry
N -- Make proper notifications and request resources

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