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Explosive-Laden California Home To Be Destroyed 424

Posted by Soulskill
from the boom-boom dept.
wiredmikey writes with this snippet from an AP report: "Neighbors gasped when authorities showed them photos of the inside of the Southern California ranch-style home: Crates of grenades, mason jars of white, explosive powder and jugs of volatile chemicals that are normally the domain of suicide bombers. ... Now authorities face the risky task of getting rid of the explosives. The property is so dangerous and volatile that they have no choice but to burn the home to the ground this week in a highly controlled operation involving dozens of firefighters, scientists and hazardous material and pollution experts. ... Some 40 experts on bombs and hazardous material from across the country and at least eight national laboratories are working on the preparations. They have analyzed wind patterns to ensure the smoke will not float over homes beyond the scores that will be evacuated. They have studied how fast the chemicals can become neutralized under heat expected to reach 1800 degrees and estimate that could happen within 30 minutes, which means most of the toxins will not even escape the burning home."
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Explosive-Laden California Home To Be Destroyed

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  • why? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by hjf (703092)

    Why? I mean, isn't there some redneck lawyer that can stop them from doing this, under the second ammendment?

    IANAL. IANAA (I am not an american) either.

    BTW, this is a JOKE.

    • The second amendment guarantees the right to bear arms. Recently, SCOTUS decided that that means the right to bear arms of the type commonly used for personal defense. (They had to decide something, because two hundred years ago people could buy muskets, and now they can buy howitzers. So they had to decide what kind of arms it referred to.)

      So basically, we can have handguns. (Though they can still be regulated in some ways. Ask a lawyer. Or a cop.)

      But we don't usually use houses full of explosives fo

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by nschubach (922175)

        One side of me says: "What if you had a bunker under your house that you could escape to if some army was attacking you. Then you could blow up your house to defend your person as a last ditch effort."

        But that's really reaching.

      • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tabrisnet (722816) on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:27PM (#34467100)

        Don't ask a cop. Then again, don't ask a lawyer either. Both will give you overly conservative anwers.

        Very often a cop is not required to know whether certain 2A activities are legal, and will arrest you anyway. Sure, the charges might not stick... But this IS California that the article is about.

        And yes, I live in NorCal.

        • Re:why? (Score:4, Informative)

          by brainboyz (114458) on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:57PM (#34467500) Homepage

          Sad but true. And in the process they'll confiscate as many firearms as they think they can under the guise of "evidence" and "just cause" then refuse to return them or "lose" them despite court cases confirming that legally they must return the firearms. Or, they'll flat-out tell the defendant that "sure, the law says X, but you'll have to have a case to prove you're innocent of it. If you just forfeit your guns, we'll drop the charges." which is corrupt, through and through.

          Most cops I know arrest on what they feel "should be" illegal because regardless of actual legality, the poor sap will be severely inconvenienced, drained of savings, and possibly have their reputation/career destroyed in the process for daring to do something the cop doesn't like.

          • Re:why? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by goosesensor (1431303) on Monday December 06, 2010 @11:43PM (#34469686)
            Looong story short: Random guy in a parking lot clames my dad's classic Toyota Land Cruiser was stolen from him 10 years ago. Police confiscate. Within just over a week guy is discredited and found to be full of it. Car is still wrapped up in bureaucracy. Dad manages to piss off the "stolen car task force" [police] with his (understandable) frustration. Appears in court and is arrested on the spot on felony charges related to some technicality of VIN registration/engine/frame code mathcing etc (totally obscure technicality). Spends night in jail. Changes are thrown out at next court date. Car is never returned and instead father has to pay shop rate to have any components wanted removed before it is CRUSHED. Cop responsible for the bullshit kills himself 1.5 years later because he is discovered to be involved in some huge scandals. Go figure.
      • Re:why? (Score:5, Informative)

        by gman003 (1693318) on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:46PM (#34467364)
        More specifically, Americans can (without a special license, although registration is usually necessary) own handguns up to 12.7mm in caliber, semiautomatic and manually-operated rifles up to 12.7mm in caliber, shotguns with a valid sporting purpose (only a few military-grade shotguns are prohibited), and flamethrowers (they were exempted apparently because they are the only sure defense from Africanized honeybees).

        With a proper license, one can also own an automatic weapon or a large-bore weapon, although these are rather rare. Note that a license is also necessary to "conceal" a weapon (if it isn't immediately and completely visible, it is concealed), there are significant restrictions on purchasing a gun (background check, waiting period, etc.) and transferring ownership of a weapon is heavily taxed. Not to mention that walking down the street with a semiautomatic rifle WILL get police attention, and pretty much nobody practices "open carry" in urban or suburban areas - just in rural areas where hunting is ubiquitous. Finally, the concealed-carry license, depending on your state, may only be issued if you can demonstrate "reasonable need", while others may issue one unless they find a reason not to.
        • Re:why? (Score:5, Informative)

          by lwsimon (724555) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @01:47AM (#34470306) Homepage Journal

          You're more right than most, but wrong a few things:

          Outside of a few states, there is no registration of any firearms. You might make an argument for dealer sales records being registration, but I can buy from a private party to avoid that if I really want to.

          Flamethrowers are not exempt, and considered destructive devices under the NFA. "Brush control devices" - which look an operate in an eerily similar fashion to flamethrowers - are fine. That said, I'm a huge gun nut and know lots of other gun nuts, and I don't know anyone that owns a flamethrower as a weapon.

          Automatics and large-caliber wepaons ("Destructive devices") do not require a license. They require a background check and a $200 tax stamp at a minimum.

          While some states have waiting periods, most do not. The background check takes less than 5 minutes, and out the door you go, with the gun. There is no special tax on firearms, and you can in fact pay cash for a weapon from someone on the street, exchange no information, and be perfectly legal.

          Walking down the street with a rifle in urban and suburban areas will draw some response from a raised eyebrow to getting shot by police, depending on where you are. Open carry of handguns is commonplace in many states, even in urban areas - see Phoenix, Arizona.

          All in all, guns just aren't a big deal in most places. There are some cities which do their best to ban them - namely, Chicago and New York City - and some states with very draconian laws (by US standards), but in most cases, no one thinks about it.

          FWIW - I'm part owner and webmaster of Shooters' Journal [shootersjournal.net], a small gun-related webmagazine, and a long time member of the firearms community. If I don't know the answer to a gun question, I know who to ask.

      • Re:why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sjames (1099) on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:58PM (#34467516) Homepage

        SCOTUS is out of it's mind. It's fairly clear that when the Bill of Rights was ratified, they meant arms of the type you would use to defend yourself from a corrupt government.

        Of course the 2nd amendment doesn't mean you can't be required to keep and bear those arms in a manner that doesn't endanger the community. The guy in TFA certainly fails there.

        • by splutty (43475)

          If we need weapons to protect us from a corrupt government, then nuclear weapons should be available on the open market, since that's ultimately what you're up against.

          It's a bit silly to trot this out in the current day and age of automated drone bombers, tactical nukes, etc.

      • Re:why? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by zippthorne (748122) on Monday December 06, 2010 @08:51PM (#34468198) Journal

        200 years ago, people could buy cannons, though. And they did. Privately owned cannons were the majority of the artillery fielded by the fledgling navy and continental navy, so I really fail to see why howitzers should be a problem today.

        The main thing keeping people from buying howitzers is the same thing keeping people from buying cannons 200 years ago: A giant milled tube of steel isn't exactly inexpensive to manufacture, and then you have to find a place to keep it.

  • Pyros. All of them (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stregano (1285764)
    I am sure they could think of a proper way to get rid of all of that stuff, but they have been looking for an excuse to burn something down and maybe get some cool explosions out of it
    • by hedwards (940851)
      Not really. I'm guessing that they're dealing with a large number of relatively low explosive devices. If it were a small number of highly explosive devices, they'd disarm. But if you've got that many devices, it's a lot safer to just burn the place down knowing that you'll have to shield the surrounding buildings.

      It's also nice in that you've got a much more predictable timing on the explosives. Anything which doesn't go off as a result of the fire isn't likely to go off ever.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by icebike (68054)

        Not really. I'm guessing that they're dealing with a large number of relatively low explosive devices. If it were a small number of highly explosive devices, they'd disarm. But if you've got that many devices, it's a lot safer to just burn the place down knowing that you'll have to shield the surrounding buildings. .

        You are sure its a lot safer? I'm so relieved.

        What could possibly go wrong.

        Explain how going in, picking up one item, walking out to the bomb disposal truck, rinse repeat, for a couple weeks (if necessary) is going to be so hazardous.

        How much evidence as to sources of these materials will be destroyed in the burn down and inevitable explosion?
        (Yeah, I've seen the silly containment fence. Laughable!).

        In fact one wonders if the destruction of evidence isn't part of the motivation here. After all, someone's

        • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld@@@gmail...com> on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:33PM (#34467182)

          The problem lies in the fact that they discovered this when the gardener stepped into some of the residue left over from the creation of some of these explosives, and went "BOOM!".

          Tell me how many weeks you think they'd be able to play the lottery and not have the whole thing go off in their face as they are attempting to carry stuff out?

          • by icebike (68054)

            The guy was living there for years. It can't be all that unstable.

    • by leenks (906881)

      I'm sure they could, but maybe this is the cheapest and potentially safest way. I doubt that they can guarantee all the compounds are labelled properly and reuse them for anything, so all they could do is transport them somewhere else and dispose of them there, assuming they are stable enough to be transported.

      If it does go wrong, this could be one incredible fireworks display though!

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:21PM (#34466982) Homepage
        Other articles (better than the TFA) have noted that the place is so packed with junk - both explosive and non explosive) that the bomb crews cannot work in their usual protective gear - there isn't enough room.

        They are also worried about booby traps and just plain explosive / dangerous crap. They are going through a lot of expense to do it this way. They are building a perimeter fence, coating a house with fire retardant foam, bringing in all manner of people. It appears that this is the safest of a number of unsafe choices.
      • by ashridah (72567) on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:27PM (#34467090)

        If it does go wrong, this could be one incredible fireworks display though!

        "And the bomb technicians claimed that having to perform the burning operation on new years eve at midnight was totally coincidental..."

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you're volunteering to fetch potentially trip-wired explosives from a building with so many explosives that they'd have a hard time finding all the pieces of you afterwards then good luck with that.

  • Now authorities face the risky task of getting rid of the explosives. The property is so dangerous and volatile that they have no choice but to burn the home to the ground this week in a highly controlled operation involving dozens of firefighters, scientists and hazardous material and pollution experts

    So you've determined whats in the house, conclusively taken an inventory of it all, yet its too dangerous to handle...

    Is this like SAW where everything has some tripwire booby trap hooked up to it - or are we just too afraid to pick up the stuff that we've been within 5 feet of?

    I am more intrigued by this story than it actually lets on. Something about the whole "It's so dangerous we can't go one step further than what we've already done" really captivates me. There must be more to it than just what they're

    • by VoxMagis (1036530)

      I'm not an explosives expert but perhaps the worry is moving/jostling the stuff, especially in a tight environment?

      • It just seems like there is a WHOLE LOT of effort that would have to go into a controlled demolition of this sort (what with chemicals and all that) - so... why can't the same amount of effort go into removing them slowly, 1 at a time?

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:18PM (#34466954)

      The way they discovered it was a gardener simply stepping in some reside, and it blowing up.

      They probably figure there are a few things in there that will go even if they are just jostled, sending up the remaining stuff...

      So basically it's just too much risk, even using a robot - since it's likley to go up anyway if they try to clear it out, better just to control the burn-down and secondaries as best they can.

      • The way they discovered it was a gardener simply stepping in some reside, and it blowing up.

        Wow - then thats worse than what the summary had led me to believe (They seem to be aware of a few different products, as if they had inspected the place)

      • To me, the really surprising thing is that this guy had a gardener.
    • by Elfich47 (703900) on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:21PM (#34466988)
      If he had home made nitroglycerin (the article only said "home made explosives") I can understand why the cops want nothing to do with it. Nitro can be manufactured at home with a minimum of difficulty. Nitro also has the property where physical shocks can detonate it. This property is great in small quantities like flash power and bang snaps. This is also a good property for remote mining: You plant your explosive charge and then bury a string of explosives 10 feet apart apart to the staging area. When the first charge in the string is detonated the rest of the string detonates because of the vibration, which in turn detonates the main charge at the mine.

      Having a house with this kind of sensitivity to vibration is asking for someone to drop/knock over a bottle of something sensitive and have it detonate. And then have that explosion trigger a sympathetic explosion, etc etc etc.
      • by dondelelcaro (81997) <don@donarmstrong.com> on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:40PM (#34467280) Homepage Journal

        This is also a good property for remote mining: You plant your explosive charge and then bury a string of explosives 10 feet apart apart to the staging area.

        Almost no one uses nitroglycerin for mining any more. The stuff is so horribly unstable that you could easily set it off just by burying it, it's expensive, and it's highly toxic. Most mining and other blasting uses ANFO coupled with a high explosive primer instead.

        • by Elfich47 (703900)
          I did not intend to imply that modern mining practice uses nitro anymore. I was just using it as an example of how unstable nitro is. My fear is that the guy was making his own and had it in storage in the house. That would convert the house into a death trap very quickly.
  • Ah no worries, it was just a bit of harmless fun and it hurt noone.

    Wait, what's that file on his computer? He planned on setting up a wikileaks mirror? TERRORIST!!!
  • It's a good thing the USA has all their airport security checks to stop these things getting on to their soil.

    Oh, wait ...

  • by gclef (96311) on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:07PM (#34466788)

    There's got to be a live feed of this that's planned...any hints as to who would be carrying it?

  • by farnsworth (558449) on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:09PM (#34466804)
    Sounds familiar [youtube.com].
  • by JeffSh (71237)

    Extra points for his profile photo being a cross-eyed 3d photo!

  • by topham (32406) on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:13PM (#34466876) Homepage

    Sounds like a completely bullshit reason.

    Get a military ordinance disposal team in place and demolish it if you really have to, but burning it? That's just looking to create a disaster.

    • It's unlikely that they are just going to burn the house with all the explosives and other materials in it! Probably, they will remove as much as they can, or so you would think. The burning is to eliminate any remaining contamination. If you simply demolish the contaminated building, it will send the contaminants into the air and soil.

    • by publiclurker (952615) on Monday December 06, 2010 @08:23PM (#34467858)
      The last time I saw an ordinance disposal team get rid of old explosives they burned them. What makes you think they would do otherwise here?
    • by blair1q (305137)

      I'd bet most of these guys are current or former military EOD, and they have all the same tools.

      Since the place is likely coated in explosive residue, the only choice is to burn it down. It would be nice to remove any big pieces of explosive first, but they explained why that's a stupid idea in this case.

  • by Tehrasha (624164) on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:18PM (#34466958) Homepage
    I just hope they film this. It could be the next 'Exploding Whale'.
  • by TechnoGrl (322690) on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:31PM (#34467154)

    and highly toxic chemicals!

    And they're going to set it on fire.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4651126 [npr.org]

  • Jamie wants BIG BOOM!

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:41PM (#34467288) Homepage Journal

    Everyone is an expert.

    In spite of the fact that "some 40 experts on bombs and hazardous materials from across the country and at least eight national laboratories..." have decided on this course of action, all of us World of Warcraft players and PHP developers have concluded it's a bad idea to handle it this way.

  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Monday December 06, 2010 @08:19PM (#34467800)

    My favorite part about this story is that they are burning the house down without due process of law. Apparently CA policemen are now judge & jury as well as cops.

    Secure the house, and let this guy have his day in court first.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @12:42PM (#34475140) Homepage Journal

    Crates of grenades, mason jars of white, explosive powder and jugs of volatile chemicals that are normally the domain of suicide bombers

    No. Stop. You fail at logic, even if you excel at propaganda.

    Probably 0.0001% of Americans who have these things are terrorists. Perhaps they're misguided, but 'normally' is pure troll.

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