The news from AP that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "has declared a state of emergency in San Diego County following the discovery of what police called a virtual bomb factory in an Escondido-area home," led us to some startling reports about what's been uncovered there.
Local authorities, reports FoxNews.com, say they may have discovered "the largest quantity of homemade explosives found in one location in the history of the United States."
No wonder the state is stepping in to organize (and help pay for) the clean-up.
It seems that George Djura Jakubec, 54, was arrested at home he rented last month after a gardener was seriously injured there. The man accidentally set off an explosive powder in the home's back yard. According to FoxNews:
"Police entered the house after the arrest but later pulled back, citing the disarray and the amount of explosives, chemicals and other dangerous material scattered about the home. They returned ... and, once again, decided the house was too dangerous to search."
The Los Angeles Times says that "along with the bombmaking materials, authorities found handguns, masks and wigs in the house. Computers, written documents and surveillance cameras were also seized; authorities hope they may provide a clue to Jakubec's motives."
There's more, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports:
"Among the items seized from the house were sulfuric acid, nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, according to the search warrant. Authorities also confiscated a grenade mold, a bag with pieces of metal, a jar with ball bearings and three wireless doorbells with remotes. Two handguns, a .22-caliber Ruger and a Glock 19, also were taken, along with a blue Escondido police shirt.
"Three computers, a book on high explosives, and two molds of human faces and four wigs were seized."
Jakubec has "confessed to an FBI agent and sheriff's detective that he had robbed three banks and tried to rob a fourth, according to a search warrant released Wednesday," the Union-Tribune adds.
He's in jail, and faces (so far) 26 counts related to the explosives and two counts related to the bank robberies. Bail was set at $5 million. Jakubec has pleaded not guilty.
There's so much dangerous stuff in the home, apparently, that authorities have decided the only safe way to deal with it all is to burn the place down. Crews are starting to trim trees and brush in the area, presumably to reduce the chances of a fire spreading, NBCSanDiego.com reports. The controlled burn is expected to happen next week, sometime from Wednesday to Friday. Parts of Interstate 15 will be shut down while it's done.
"We're going to basically cause this house to become very, very hot very, very quickly and with the walls and things still up, it will literally contain it almost like a chimney and keep everything in close," Nick Vent of San Diego County Hazmat told San Diego's KGTV-TV. (The station has an extensive list of stories, video reports and photos about all this at that webpage.)
KFMB-TV, meanwhile, has this video report that includes photos from inside the home:
Schwarzenegger's declaration of a state of emergency will help the local authorities pay for the operation. And, it puts the California Emergency Management Agency in charge of coordinating things. The governor's proclamation reads, in part:
"The circumstances attendant to the removal of this stockpile of highly explosive, unstable materials, by reason of their volatility and magnitude, are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of any single county, city and county, or city and require the combined forces of a mutual aid region or regions to combat."
Update at 3:25 p.m. ET, Dec. 3. The AP now reports that all state charges against Jakubec have been dropped so that prosecutors can focus on the federal charges he faces. And it reports that "crews were building a 16-foot wall around the house to protect other homes in the neighborhood during destruction expected late next week."