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State police bomb squad called to Jaffrey for “soda bottle bomb”

  • The New Hampshire State Police Bomb Squad was called to Jaffrey on Monday afternoon after a bomb was found at Community Field on Union Street.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • The New Hampshire State Police Bomb Squad successfully detonated a “soda bottle bomb” in Jaffrey on Monday afternoon.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • The New Hampshire State Police Bomb Squad was called to Jaffrey on Monday afternoon after a bomb was found at Community Field on Union Street.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • The New Hampshire State Police Bomb Squad was called to Jaffrey on Monday afternoon after a bomb was found at Community Field on Union Street.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • The New Hampshire State Police Bomb Squad was called to Jaffrey on Monday afternoon after a bomb was found at Community Field on Union Street.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • The New Hampshire State Police Bomb Squad was called to Jaffrey on Monday afternoon after a bomb was found at Community Field on Union Street.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, November 06, 2017

The New Hampshire State Police Bomb Squad was called to Jaffrey on Monday afternoon to detonate a “soda bottle bomb” found on Community Field. 

The bomb — also known as a chemical reaction bomb — was safely detonated with the use of a bomb squad tool, according to Bomb Squad Sergeant Jeff Dade, in an interview on scene Monday. 

“These bombs are extremely unpredictable,” said Dade, who said the bombs are typically constructed by juveniles seeking thrills. “The motivation is typically not to hurt anyone, but oftentimes there are unintended consequences.”

Bombs of this nature are made by placing aluminum foil and a mixture of chemicals into a soda bottle or other type of plastic bottle with a lid, according to Dade. The plastic bottle eventually explodes due to a pressure build up caused by a chemical reaction between the chemicals and aluminum foil in the bottle.

Dade said that weather, time, and the ratio and types of chemicals all factor into how and when the bomb explodes. It is unknown how long the bomb had been on premises, according to Dade.

Jaffrey Police Lt. Todd Muilenberg said his department was notified of the bomb by a department of public works employee around 11:45 a.m. Community Field is located on Union Street and is accessible via the Rail Trail. 

The bomb squad was called out as a precaution, according to Muilenberg, who said the bomb sounded like an M-80 when it was detonated. 

“It was a little louder than we thought it would be,” said Muilenberg. 

Dade said any chemical reaction bomb has the potential to maim or even kill someone when it explodes, although the exact extent of the explosion is hard to predict.

“It’s not like we can draw a line in the sand,” said Dade, who said respiratory hazards are also a possibility in the moments after a chemical reaction bomb explodes.

The next step, according to Dade, is to analyze forensic evidence from the bomb. 

Dade said that these types of bombs are “very common” across the state and nation, although there isn’t one area or community in New Hampshire that seems to have more of them. 

Wilton Police Chief Brent Hautanen said in a phone interview Monday afternoon that Wilton had seen a similar bomb a number of years ago when there was a rash of similar bombs being found throughout the state.

"That was a popular thing to do in our state, and there were a lot of towns dealing with that issue," said Hautanen, who said such a bomb hasn’t been reported in town since. 

In Wilton's case, the bottle had swollen to a dangerous size, but had not exploded. As in Jaffrey, Wilton police called in a member of the bomb squad to defuse it.

"They can hurt you," said Hautanen. "The initial explosion will throw off pieces of plastic, which can hurt you, you can sustain chemical burns, and if it gets into your eyes, it can be even more serious.”

Any suspicious-looking bottle found on one’s lawn or in a mailbox should immediately be reported to the police, according to Hautanen. People should stay away from the bottle and never touch them. 

"They are unpredictable," said Hautanen. "They're homemade so who knows how many chemicals they put in there. It's an imperfect system, so you don't know the measurement of chemicals or the strength of the chemical reactions. The best thing to do is to keep everyone away from it and contact police."