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Bomb Squad Detonates Device in Clarksburg

Staff Reports

CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The state police hazardous unit exploded a suspicious device discovered at a Clarksburg home on Tuesday.

"They detonated a device that appeared to be a homemade IED," said Chief Michael Williams. The device was taken to the sandbanks behind the Senior Center on Cross Road and blown up shortly before noon. The blast reportedly shook the center.

Williams said the residents of the home on Middle Road discovered the device on the property. The bomb squad was contacted to investigate and "they determined that they were just going to do a detonation because they didn't want to transport it for safety reasons."

He described as looking like "something somebody made." Nothing further of a suspicious nature was found or removed, said Williams.

The state fire marshal's office confirmed the bomb squad was called for report of an explosive device at the Middle Road home at about 9 a.m. and arrived to assist Clarksburg police.

"They found a device that they felt needed to be removed from the home and rendered it safe," said Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for the state fire marshal's office. Mieth said the term IED, or improvised explosive device, means it was not a military-made device.

This is the third time in three years a hazardous unit has been called to North Berkshire. The first was in May 2008 after a bank robber dropped what appeared to be an explosive device on the sidewalk in front of Hoosac Bank in North Adams. The device was detonated at the gravel bank off Curran Highway. Investigators believed the device was military-grade C4 based on images taken by the squad's robot.

The second time was this past December when a large black gym bag was spotted under Veterans Memorial Bridge. The squad took X-rays of the bag and cleared it as safe. It was full of dirty clothes and had been stolen from a local laundromat.

Tags: bomb      

Abandoned Bag Prompts Bridge Closure

Tammy Daniels & Andy McKeever

State police bomb squad examine X-rays of the suspicious bag left under Veterans Memorial Bridge, which is shown in the background.

 

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A bag full of dirty clothes shut down one of the city's main arteries for more than two hours on Wednesday night.

The suspicious bag was reported abandoned under the Veterans Memorial Bridge just after 6 p.m.

An initial investigation led police to believe the bag could contain a bomb or explosives and they closed the roads around 7 p.m. The bomb squad was called about less than a half hour later.

"We had a suspicious package under the artery," said Public Safety Commissioner E. John Morocco, who described it as "an old dufflebag."  "We originally checked it with a thermal scanner and we found a hot spot."

That was enough to call in the state police bomb squad, he said. Two squad members arrived around 9 p.m.

Access to Marshall Street between Main and River streets and Veterans Memorial Bridge, carrying Route 2, was blocked and diverted over Main Street and River Street.

Shortly before 10 p.m. state police finished the investigation and found the bag was not harmful. They took X-rays using a portable machine to determine there were no explosives. Once that was completed, a trooper wearing a safety vest opened the bag and looked inside to confirm.

The team brought along the remote-control robot but did not deploy it.

A dufflebag of some type can be seen under the Veterans Memorial Bridge.

"The city should be so fortunate to have such a quick response by police, fire department and ambulance," Mayor Richard Alcombright said when the roads were being reopened. "I want to give a very big thank you to the state police for their help."

The four-lane memorial bridge continues Route 2 over Marshall Street, the Hoosic River and parking lots on both sides of Marshall.

What appeared to be a large, dark bag of some sort could be seen about midway between the concrete pillars supporting the deck on the edge of the east side of the parking lot near the sidewalk at about 9 p.m. The nearby Mohawk Tavern was dark and reportedly evacuated.

North Adams Police were being aided by a state police cruiser and Clarksburg police to prevent motorists from driving under or over the bridge.

Officer Jason Wood said the bag was "full of dirty clothes." An officer is still investigating but Wood wasn't sure it if there was anything in the bag to identify the owner. "It was in an odd spot," he said, adding the bag is now "lost property."

The last time a suspicious package raised this level of caution was more than two years during a failed bank robbery attempt by Robert A. Bywaters. Bywaters claimed to have a bomb in a bag he left on the sidewalk in front of Hoosac Bank on Main Street.

The main drag was shut down for nearly 12 hours before the state police bomb squad removed the bag and disposed of the contents.

Updated and rewritten throughout to add and correct details; Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010, 10:58 p.m.

Update on Saturday, Dec.18: The bag turns out to have been stolen from a woman at the Thrifty Bundle laundromat on State Road. According to a report in the North Adams Transcript, someone grabbed her purse and, when she gave chase, someone else stole her bag.

Tags: road closure, bomb      
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