Explosions heard in Manatee County were from 1970s-era, 7-foot long pipe bomb with 38 pounds of explosives inside

Bomb Squad detonates 38 pounds of explosives found in PVC pipe behind Terra Ceia home

SARASOTA (WWSB) - Four explosions early Sunday morning caused many ABC7 viewers to reach out to us for more information.

A homeowner in Palmetto, said he found a PVC pipe in the swampy mangroves behind his house.

When he cut it open, he found that it was a 7 foot, 4 inch PVC pipe filled with explosives.

“This is such an unusual case,” said Mike Blozki, Captain of the Southern Manatee Fire Rescue’s Hazmat Team.

“This is like a once in a lifetime kind of thing in Manatee County and it kind of throws responders for a loop," said Captain Blozki. "Especially when we estimate, you’re dealing with 38 pounds of a true blasting agent that’s been rediscovered after 40-45 years behind, somewhere.”

Somewhere back behind a home on the 400 block of Horseshoe Loop near Terra Ceia Bay in Palmetto.

The homeowner who found it is being pretty tight lipped about his discovery.

“The Manatee County Bomb Squad and the FBI came and took control of the situation and it was a done deal," was what he said about it.

But it caused a lot of commotion in that neighborhood Saturday night.

“Ambulances, police vehicles, federal vehicles," explained a neighbor, David Jolly. "This whole road was blocked off.”

Captain Blozki said they were called after the homeowner used a chainsaw to open the PVC pipe, curious of what was inside.

“Inside of that was a dark brown to white crystalline, solid powder mixture that was inside of that, that was giving off some type of vapors that immediately gave him some kind of headache as a result of being exposed to it," he explained.

Bomb personnel used clues like a company name printed on the pipe to determine it was from the 1970s.

“They would insert these pipes into the ground and then detonate them to clear out spaces in the mangrove and also loosen bedrock that they could use as shoreline breakers for general construction in that area,” Captain Blozki explained.

As for this one, first responders decided it would be safest to dispose of it immediately.

“The packages that were inside of there were actually starting to leech or sweat nitroglycerin," Captain Blozki explained. "That was, kind of a link to the signs and the symptoms of the patients that were out there, that were experiencing headaches as a result of this. So the best course of action that was taken was we needed to dispose of this, almost immediately.”

They brought the pipe to a secluded field on Buckeye Road and Bud Rhoden Road, detonating the explosives in four parts.

Emergency personnel aren’t concerned there are more lying around Manatee County, but Captain Blozki said, “there’s always a potential that there are [more] existing out there. We are currently investigating the process."

If anyone in the community comes across a pipe resembling this one, the Hazmat Team said do not cut it open and call 911.

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