Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department said an Escondido house that contains bomb-making compounds will be burned Thursday instead of Wednesday.
A federal judge denied a motion to halt the burn of an Escondido home officials call a "bomb factory." The burning of the home is set to start about 9 a.m. Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns denied defense attorney Michael Berg's emergency request to stop destruction of the home.
Berg claimed there could be documents and other evidence inside critical to Berg's defense of the home's renter, George Jakubec.
But the judge sided with bomb experts who say the home is too dangerous for anyone to enter.
"It is incredibly messy, cluttered, dangerous, there are solvents, acids, chemicals, this is absolutely a toxic wasteland,” said Jan Caldwell, spokeswoman for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
Caldwell said the judge's ruling means the burn will go on as planned.
Prosecutors say the home has the largest amount of certain homemade explosives and chemicals used in bomb-making found in a single U.S. location.
In advance of the burning, people in several dozen nearby homes will be urged to evacuate Wednesday evening, including Alan Landsman.
"I'm not worried about it because the law enforcement response has been so overwhelming that I feel as though I'm in good hands," said Landsman smiling. "And that's why, I'm relaxed."
Landsman was working in his garage when we talked. The home he's had for 12 years is just 300 yards from the house officials call a powder keg.
"My next door neighbor takes the attitude that the neighborhood is being rundown because of this one incident," said Landsman. "I don't see it that way. I still see it as a very good neighborhood to live in with one nutcase in the lot."
San Diego County Sheriffs Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said a hot, fast burn will vaporize the explosives in the first hour.
She said county Hazmat officials will go into the house when the ashes have cooled.
"They will start the process of scraping the soil, they have air monitors, soil monitors, they're going to make sure this is a healthy property in the next few days," said Caldwell.
County Hazmat crews have set up chemical detectors within a one-half mile radius to check for toxins in the air.
Nearby Interstate-15 will be closed for several hours as a precaution beginning about 8:30 a.m. Thursday.