House with explosives to be destroyed with prescribed fire

I would not want to be the Burn Boss for this project.

A house near Escondido, California contains 9 to 12 pounds of high explosives, including HTMD, PETN, and ETN, which is the largest cache of its type ever found in the United States. The house is crammed full of junk and the explosives are scattered around in clumps. All of these types of explosives have been used by terrorists around the world. PETN was the choice of the underwear bomber, the shoe bomber, and was found in the printer cartridges that were shipped from Yemen a few weeks ago.

Some of the explosives can be very easily detonated and are shock-sensitive. A gardener stepped on some in the back yard of the Escondido house and triggered a blast that injured his left eye, torso, and an arm. That explosion called attention to the house and resulted in the arrest of the occupant, George Djura Jakubec, on 26 counts of manufacturing or possessing explosives. He is also accused of committing two bank robberies in San Diego. Jakubec is being held in jail in lieu of $5 million bail.

County Sheriff Bill Gore said “There is no viable method to render the property safe. It is also not habitable. The most effective way is to destroy the residence by fire.”

He said weather permitting, they expect to burn it between December 8 and 10, after building protective barriers around the site. Dozens of homes will be evacuated, other residents will shelter in place, and the nearby Interstate 15 will be closed for about three hours.

Firefighters will heat the house so that it will burn quickly, and then ignite the fire.

I wonder how they will ignite it? I’m thinking they will not  use a drip torch.

Todd Newman, fire chief of the San Marcos Fire Department said, “We have a very high confidence level that these chemicals will be neutralized very quickly. They’ll be neutralized by the heat of the fire pretty much before it leaves the property.”


The house at 1954 Via Scott that will be burned is in the blue area. Yellow shading designates shelter-in-place area. Light red shading designates evacuation area.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

2 thoughts on “House with explosives to be destroyed with prescribed fire”

  1. We shall see how they overlooked the sewage system and gas lines which are ancient and run directly under the property line which will be damaged when the house detonates but didn’t appear on updated maps which didn’t include anything that was shut down in 1972 . This is a great opportunity to give the overzealous to get too excited and kill themselves.

  2. Very High Confidence Level? I would want to be 100% sure that there wouldn’t be any issues. Hope they have thought this one through and done some rock solid planning. Is their liability insurance paid up??


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