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Explosion Causes Traffic Delays

A stretch of southbound Interstate 15 in the North County was closed today as part of an investigation into a backyard explosion that sent one man to a hospital and another to jail.

A gardener suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the blast in the 1900 block of Via Scott in unincorporated Escondido about 1 p.m. Thursday, according to sheriff's officials.

The precise nature of the explosion remained unclear this afternoon, though the owner of the residence, George Djura Jakubec, 54, was arrested on suspicion of manufacturing and possessing a homemade bomb.

The 49-year-old victim of the detonation apparently inadvertently triggered it by stepping on the makeshift device while working behind Jakubec's house, officials said.

Bomb-arson personnel and FBI agents were investigating. Neighbors told them they had heard other explosions in the neighborhood on prior occasions.

Late this morning, the southbound lanes of nearby I-15 were shut down between El Norte and Centre City parkway. The closure was expected to to last several hours, Caltrans spokesman Ed Cartagena said.

Meanwhile, sheriff's officials also sent out a "reverse 911" telephone message through the surrounding area, warning residents that some explosive materials would be detonated in the early afternoon in order to render them safe, department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said. At least one controlled blast was likely be necessary, and possibly several, she said.

Homes near the one where Thursday's blast occurred were evacuated and were likely to remain empty until this afternoon, officials said.

Jakubec was booked on suspicion of possession of an explosive device with intent to injur or intimidate, making a destructive device without a permit, possession of a destructive device and unlawful possession of an explosive.

Bail was set at $100,000. Jakubec is scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday afternoon.

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