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PSP issues bulletin to warn public of homemade bottle bombs

Published February 28. 2012 05:01PM

Pennsylvania State Police have issued the following warning about bottle bombs.

Incidents involving homemade "bottle bombs," also known as "acid bombs," "works bombs," and "pressure bombs," have been reported for at least two decades. Due to the increased prevalence of instructional videos and manuals on the Internet, these bombs are now surfacing more frequently. These explosive devices are easily concocted by utilizing common household ingredients, thus making them quite popular.

Usually "planted" as a prank in a mailbox or a yard, these devices have the potential to be very dangerous. When unsuspecting persons view these bottles as litter and attempt to throw them away or remove them, they could sustain serious injury, such as burns, potential loss of fingers, or even death. If the bomb explodes near the facial area, vision or hearing loss could occur.

The above-described scenario is exactly what befell a woman in Texas in 1993. She thought some bottles in her yard to be litter so she collected them and placed them in her sink. As she approached the sink, the two bottles exploded in her face, resulting in hearing loss.

A 68 year old woman also suffered injury while collecting debris at a park in California in November 2008. Her good deed was met with cuts on her face and neck, requiring surgery, and a broken finger. All of these injuries were sustained after a plastic soda bottle, rigged as a bomb, exploded in her hand.

A group of teens in Pennsylvania found themselves in legal trouble after setting off bottle bombs at three different businesses in April 2010. The first exploded in a restaurant trash can. The second went off just outside of a fast food eatery, and another exploded in the aisle of a pharmacy. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in any of these incidents, through two people did seek treatment for inhalation injuries. A month later, a Pennsylvania elementary school was placed in lockdown after witnesses on the playground reported hearing what they believed to be gunshots. The noise were actually two bottle bombs exploding. One landed in the school parking lot, but no one was injured.

Police in Bushkill Township found a doll strapped with three bottle bombs on Aug. 8, 2011. Two of the bombs had already exploded, while police were required to dismantle the third. Days earlier, on Aug. 4, 2011, a postal worker in the same county suffered chemical burns after another bottle bomb exploded in a mailbox.

Bottle bombs pose a substantial risk to all who encounter them. What might initially appear to be litter could actually be a dangerous device. If a bottle containing liquid of a suspicious nature, liquid mixed with a metallic material is discovered, remove people from the immediate vicinity and contact 9-1-1. If the contents are bubbling and the bottle begins swelling, an explosion could be imminent. In cases were bottles have already exploded, individuals should refrain from coming into contact with any liquids, as they may be acidic and potentially harmful.

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