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Three Explosive Devices Found Over Three Days

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Calaveras County, CA – Over three days in June, the Calaveras Sheriff’s Bomb Squad was called to three different locations to dispose of explosive devices—one of which was in Tuolumne County.

The first incident happened on Wednesday, June 22nd, when a suspicious vehicle with an expired registration was discovered parked near the intersection of Mountain Ranch and Michael roads in Mountain Ranch. While the vehicle was being prepared for towing, deputies discovered a loaded handgun and what looked like a homemade bomb. Once on the scene, the bomb squad determined the device was a homemade improvised explosive device and rendered it safe. Sheriff’s spokesperson Lt. Greg Stark detailed, “Further testing confirmed the presence of a high explosive.”

The next day, June 23rd, a rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG, as shown in the image box, was found at the landfill on Hunt Road in Milton. Lt Stark shared, “The bomb squad responded and learned that someone had thrown the device out with their trash and may have been in there for days…The round was countercharged and rendered safe on-site in a remote location.”

Then, on June 30th, a report of blasting caps dug up during a construction project outside of Groveland brought the squad to Tuolumne County. Initially, about 200 aged and degraded blasting caps were found, but further site excavating uncovered another 300 blasting caps, for a total of 500. All were rendered safe at the site.

As these investigations are ongoing, no further information is available, according to Lt. Stark. The sheriff’s office did provide these safety tips regarding explosive devices:

  • Never assume that an ordinance (explosive device) found outside a military environment is safe. Over the years, the Bomb Squad has responded to dozens of calls involving military ordinance. Most military training ordinances are painted a certain color to indicate they are for training. It’s not uncommon for someone to claim the ordinance is safe due to its markings and color. However, outside of a military environment, there is no way of knowing if the ordinance was modified or painted a different color. Additionally, many people collect military ordinance that is inert or safe. Again, there is no way of knowing it is safe. The Bomb Squad has found dozens of pieces of military ordinances used as décor and even in local museums that turned out to be a live ordinance.
  • In the past, it was not uncommon for someone to go to the local hardware store and buy some dynamite and blasting caps for tree clearing or ditch digging. There were little to no restrictions on purchasing explosives back then. Sometimes these explosives were stored for years and forgotten until they were found by someone cleaning out an old building or rummaging through an old barn. In addition, with the history of mining in the area, the Bomb Squad has responded to dozens of calls where old explosives or blasting caps were discovered. If you suspect you have found some old explosives or blasting caps, do not move them. Call 911.
  • If you find something and believe it to be explosive or suspicious, don’t hesitate to call 911.

The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit (EOD) was established in 1996. Last year, the team responded to 19 calls for service involving explosive items. Much of the squad’s equipment is provided by the federal government. The most recent ones are specialized robots that can be used to examine, transport, or render explosives safe.

  • Explosive caps found by Calaveras Sheriff’s Bomb Squad in Groveland

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