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Authorities: Burn cleared California house of explosives

By The CNN Wire Staff
  • A controlled fire destroyed all explosives and hazardous materials at Escondido home
  • Officials say house was too dangerous for bomb squads
  • Removal of the debris begins Monday

(CNN) -- A controlled fire at a home near Escondido, California, destroyed all of the house's cache of homemade explosives and hazardous materials, authorities said Saturday.

The San Diego County Sheriff Bomb Arson unit on Friday sifted through the ashes of the Southern California "bomb factory" home, which authorities said held the nation's largest ever cache of homemade explosives.

Crews on Monday will begin hauling soil, ash and scrap to local landfills for disposal, San Diego County officials said in a statement. Environmental officials will assist to make sure there will be no runoff from the debris.

The single-story suburban house in an unincorporated area near Escondido, California, was torched Thursday, with 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.

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 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.

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.