A pipe bomb that turned out to be empty of explosives was found Sunday morning by renters at 1083 Irvine Street and authorities in The Dalles are seeking the person who left it there.
“There is a possibility that it was meant as a hoax because it was not charged but it had all of the components to be a real bomb and that is something we take very seriously,” said Wasco County Chief Deputy Lane Magill.
He said the bomb was found shortly after 10:30 a.m. in a concealed section of a built-in drawer while new wiring was being installed in the mobile home. The occupants of the dwelling, who had been there for about one year, immediately set the device in the yard and alerted law enforcement officials about the potentially dangerous situation.
“If you find an item that you believe might contain some sort of explosive device, you need to call 911 and not move it because you never know if it is real or not,” said Magill.
He said deputies converged on the scene and followed the advice of Oregon State Police bomb technicians about what size of an area to cordon off for public safety. As a result of that boundary, Magill said the occupants of several neighboring homes were evacuated and a security perimeter maintained until OSP technicians from Hermiston arrived at the scene a couple of hours later.
He said these experts used apparatus similar to a water cannon to render any potential bomb incapable of an explosion. Once the device had been disabled, the technicians took it apart and discovered that it was missing the black powder or other material that would have armed it for an explosion.
“It was very weird because normally when you find something like this, it is ready to go,” said Magill, who dealt with a live pipe bomb shortly after arriving at the sheriff’s office in 2002.
“We were told that if it had been charged, it could have caused very serious damage to that residence.”
The scene was cleared about 3:40 p.m. and Magill said the people who currently live in the house did not know that the inert bomb was inside the drawer.
He said detectives are now searching through rental records to track down other people who previously lived at the residence.
“We are not going to be the agency that doesn’t take something like this very seriously,” he said. “We are encouraging community members with information about anyone who might have lived at that location to call us and we will follow up on all leads.”
People with information about this case are asked to call the sheriff’s office investigative unit at 541-506-2580.