Explosive-laden Calif. home to be destroyed; the largest amount of homemade explosives ever found in one location in the U.S.

Neighbors gasped when authorities showed them photos of the inside…

Neighbors gasped when authorities showed them photos of the inside of the Southern California ranch-style home: Crates of grenades, mason jars of white, explosive powder and jugs of volatile chemicals that are normally the domain of suicide bombers.

Prosecutors say Serbian-born George Jakubec quietly packed the home with the largest amount of homemade explosives ever found in one location in the U.S. and was running a virtual bomb-making factory in his suburban neighborhood. How the alleged bank robber obtained the chemicals and what he planned to do with them remain mysteries.

Now authorities face the risky task of getting rid of the explosives. The property is so dangerous and volatile that that they have no choice but to burn the home to the ground this week in a highly controlled operation involving dozens of firefighters, scientists and hazardous material and pollution experts.

Authorities went into the home after Jakubec was arrested, but encountered a maze of floor-to-ceiling junk and explosives that included 13 unfinished shrapnel grenades.

Bomb experts pulled out about nine pounds of explosive material and detonated it, but they soon realized it was too dangerous to continue given the quantity of hazardous substances. A bomb-disposing robot was ruled out because of the obstacle of all the junk Jakubec hoarded.

That left only one option — burn the home down.

San Marcos Fire Chief Todd Newman acknowledges it is no small feat: Authorities have never dealt with destroying such a large quantity of dangerous material in the middle of a populated area, bordered by a busy eight-lane freeway.

“This is a truly unknown situation,” said Neal Langerman, the top scientist at the safety consulting firm, Advanced Chemical Safety in San Diego. “They’ve got a very good inventory of what’s in there. Do I anticipate something going wrong? No. But even in a controlled burn, things occasionally go wrong.”

He said the burning of the house would provide “an amazing textbook study” for bomb technicians in the future.

Source: Julie Watson for the Associated Press.

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