REDDING, Calif. - Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said in a news conference Saturday a bomb tech observed the most explosives he's ever seen inside a single home at the site of an explosion on Chaparral Drive just west of Redding.
The explosion happened Thursday around 4:10 p.m. The man who lives there, D. Ray East, 63, lost most of his hand and suffered serious blast injuries. A small fire was also extinguished.
In the days since, investigators with the Shasta County bomb squad, FBI, and CAL FIRE, have been methodically investigating the home using a robot.
On Saturday, Bosenko announced that investigators found at least 40 pounds of explosives and explosive precursor materials, some of which are sensitive to heat, impact, or friction. A bomb tech told him if the home were to detonate, the explosion would be "large," though it's too early to say how big.
That is why a state of emergency and an evacuation radius of 1,000 feet remain in place, and a number of residents are displaced, Bosenko said. He called the explosives a danger to emergency personnel and residents in the area.
The suspect, East, is not believed to be part of any sort of terrorist or extremist group, Bosenko said. However, it is believed some of the materials in the home were obtained illegally. While East initially told deputies rocket fuel was to blame for the initial explosion, he has since changed his story, and it us now believed rocket-propelling explosives may be to blame.
According to Bosenko, some people have refused to evacuate, but are urged to do so immediately. The Sheriff's Office is working with Haven Humane to evacuate animals as well. An evacuation shelter remains open at Manzanita Elementary School.
Additionally, Bosenko said his office has reached out to San Diego County for advice. That was the location of another major explosives find in Escondido. In that case, the home had to be burned down.