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Bomb scare at school, detonation not related

February 19, 2013
A strange convergence of events, a bomb threat this morning followed by a loud explosion early this afternoon left more than a few parents fearful that a school bomb threat that evacuated Bonners Ferry High School was real, but the two events were not related.

"Well good timing on their part," said one parent after the explosion rattled her windows and scared her animals. "Half the parents on the North Hill headed immediately in the direction of the schools seconds after gearing the colossal sound!"

The colossal sound, according Boundary County Emergency Management Incident Commander Bob Graham, was the controlled detonation of two vintage hand grenades found in a home on the Moyie River Road yesterday.

"It appears they'd been there for quite some time," Graham said. "One was a fragmentation grenade dated 1974, the other was a tear gas grenade."

According to Graham, the owner of the home, whose name was not released, passed away recently, and his wife was cleaning a shed on the property when she found the Vietnam-era explosives and called the sheriff's office.

After informing the state of the find and ascertaining that the grenades were as old as they were, the grenades were secured and arrangements made with a military bomb disposal unit from Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, to come to Bonners Ferry today to dispose of them.

"We were just getting set up when the bomb threat from the high school was called in," Graham said.

That call came into the sheriff's office at 9:36 a.m. today, postponing the planned demolition.

Graham said the threat this time was discovered scratched into the point in a boy's restroom stall, "Bomb 3:30," once again forcing the high school to be evacuated and summoned another all-out response by the Bonners Ferry Police Department, Boundary Volunteer Ambulance, the Sheriff's Office and the Bonners Ferry Fire Department, all of whom staged as students and staff were taken to Valley View Elementary and placed in lockdown.

The school was searched and emergency units began clearing the scene at 10:44 a.m.; students were returned to the high school at 11:30 a.m.

And Graham returned to the Fairchild team waiting for him.

While they typically don't like to give away the location where such detonations take place, the cat was out of the bag even before the blast occurred; with Monday a holiday, people were lined up within minutes of the gate being closed, and word passed via cellphone and social media that the bomb squad was at the landfill, setting off a spate of worried rumors.

Still, the bomb squad, adding 7 1/2 pounds of their own explosive to destroy the two grenades, set the blast off just before 1 p.m., rattling windows and spooking livestock for a good long way.

"Heck, I'm on the south side and I heard it," said one person on Facebook shortly after the blast.

"Usualy EOD teams keep a low profile," wrote another, "the fear of 'explosives' of the popultion is usualy worse than the boom, lol plus if it is advertised, half of us would show up to watch, lol!"

"Come on, even our people know that blowing something up that close to town right at the end of a school bomb threat it not going to keep a low profile!" wrote another. "But if that's the reasoning, it sounds about right for a government operation."
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