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California officials to sift through ashes of 'bomb factory' house

By the CNN Wire Staff
Officials felt the fire was the safest way to destroy the homemade explosives and chemicals inside the house.
Officials felt the fire was the safest way to destroy the homemade explosives and chemicals inside the house.
  • "This has gone according to plan," a sheriff's spokeswoman says
  • Authorities said the house had to be burned because it was dangerous
  • Some residents evacuated from area
  • Suspect is arrested on bomb making and bank robbery charges

(CNN) -- Bomb and fire officials will sift through the ashes of a Southern California home Friday, a day after authorities burned the home that held the nation's largest ever cache of homemade explosives.

Crews will make sure no hazardous material remain in the house and that it is safe for them to begin removing the charred debris.

The single-story suburban house in an unincorporated area near Escondido, California, was torched Thursday, flames shooting three to four stories high. The controlled burn didn't appear to threaten nearby houses and was called successful in incinerating the materials without any explosions, officials said.

"This has gone according to plan," Jan Caldwell, spokeswoman for the San Diego, California, Sheriff's Department said Thursday. "It is highly unlikely that anything is left that is toxic. Right now, I believe that the worst of the situation is over."

The house was deemed too dangerous for bomb squads because clutter inside the house was feared to conceal a large volume of volatile explosives, authorities said.

San Diego County authorities decided the fire was the safest way to destroy the homemade explosive and hazardous chemicals inside the house.

A federal judge earlier cleared the way for authorities to blaze the house, which a prosecutor called a "bomb factory."

George Djura Jakubec, the resident of the home, had asked the judge Wednesday to delay the home razing so that his lawyer could retrieve evidence.

But the judge ruled against the appeal.

Part of a nearby interstate was shut down during the burn, the sheriff's department said.

Numerous bomb experts and hazardous materials teams were on site to help with the burn, the sheriff's department said.

The case began November 18 when officials found about 9 pounds of hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, or HMTD, in the backyard of the home after a gardener accidentally ignited some of the material.

One expert likened the 9 pounds to a large car bomb, which could blow out the house's windows and doors and damage adjacent houses.

Inside the home, bomb crews discovered more HMTD and another type of homemade explosive: pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN.

Jakubec, a 54-year-old computer software consultant, was arrested and is being held in lieu of $5 million bail on bomb-making and bank robbery charges.

About 130 homes had been evacuated in the suburban neighborhood. Authorities had also built a 16-foot wall coated with a fire-retardant gel on the property to protect a nearby house, and they also sprayed water on another adjacent house during the burn.

Sixteen air monitoring devices, including one as far away as two miles, registered some toxicity but the pollution dissipated, authorities said.