Oak Creek Residents and business owners in Oak Creek on Tuesday and Wednesday were finding the remains of small, homemade bombs throughout the town as police continued to search for who made them.
Oak Creek Fire Protection District Chief Chuck Wisecup said Wednesday that the devices were plastic bottles filled with aluminum foil and a cleaning agent suspected to be toilet bowl cleaner.
When the two ingredients combine, they cause the bottle to explode and leave behind chemicals and fumes Wisecup said can cause burns, respiratory problems and blindness.
The fire department is encouraging anyone who finds one of the devices to avoid them and to call 911 because the detonated remains can be dangerous to handle.
“You definitely have to take a step back and think about what you're going to do with the device when you find it,” he said.
The first bomb was found Tuesday morning in the parking lot of Rachel's Smokin' BBQ and Cafe. Owner Rachel Green said her adult daughter found the detonated bottle and touched it with her foot not knowing what it was. She said it appears the detonated device left behind an acid because a liquid ate through her daughter's sock but didn't cause any injury.
“It's a nasty substance,” Green said. “If she would have picked it up, she would have been in trouble.”
Green suspects the device was thrown at her property sometime Monday night or early Tuesday.
Wisecup said that after he posted about the bombs on Facebook, firefighters were called to at least two more reports of similar devices found at nearby residences Tuesday afternoon.
Firefighters were called to another report of a bottle bomb Wednesday morning.
Oak Creek Police Department officer Ed Corriveau said Wednesday evening that police still were investigating the bombs found in town.
When asked whether his department had identified any suspects, Corriveau said he couldn't release any additional information until he had news release approved by Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen.
Corriveau said more information likely would be available Thursday morning.
Wisecup said the homemade bombs in Oak Creek are similar to ones deployed in Hayden years ago that injured a police officer.
In August 2007, 12 to 14 mangled, plastic bottles were found throughout Hayden. Like the bottles found in Oak Creek, they appeared to have been remnants of homemade acid bombs, which explode when a common cleaning agent is sealed inside a plastic bottle with aluminum foil. The reaction leaves behind poisonous hydrochloric acid fumes.
A Hayden police officer who responded to the scene of the exploding devices inhaled those fumes and was diagnosed with chemical bronchitis.
Two 19-year-old former Hayden residents eventually were charged for detonating the devices.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com