BAR HARBOR, Maine — A local man is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s office after police found out he was making explosive targets and then setting them off by shooting them with a firearm outside his home off Route 102.
According to Sgt. David Kerns of the Bar Harbor Police Department, the man did not realize he was violating the law by detonating the targets. The Bangor Daily News is not identifying the man because he has not been charged with a crime.
Kerns said Thursday that due to the nature of the case, the matter has been turned over to the State Fire Marshal’s office. The Bar Harbor Police Department is not expected to pursue any charges in the case, he said.
According to Sgt. Tim York of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the case remains under investigation by state officials. For that reason, York declined on Friday to make any additional comments about the case.
Kerns said that the man legally bought the materials to make the explosive, which is known by the brand name Tannerite. The sale of the separate substances that are combined to make Tannerite is legal in Maine, according to Kerns, but the use of the explosive is not. He said kits to make Tannerite are legally sold in the state.
Tannerite explodes when it is sealed in containers and then struck by a high-speed projectile such as a bullet, Kerns said. It is used in target shooting as a way to determine immediately whether a target has been struck.
The Maine Warden Service received a tip about the man’s activities in early December after someone became concerned that the man may have been planning to use the explosive somehow for hunting, according to Kerns. Game wardens contacted Bar Harbor police, who then contacted the State Fire Marshal’s office.
Kerns said police had received complaints of the sound of explosions in the area where the man lives, but were not able to determine where the sounds were coming from until they were contacted by the Warden Service.
When law enforcement officials showed up at the man’s home, the man told police he did not realize he was breaking the law by shooting at and detonating the targets, Kerns said. The officer said the man is believed to have been detonating Tannerite for only a week or so before police showed up at his house. Law enforcement officials found no indication the man was planning to use the explosive while hunting, he said.
“He didn’t know he was doing anything wrong,” Kerns said. “He was forthcoming and cooperative.”
Around the same time, in early December, police in Southwest Harbor received one or two similar calls from people who said they could hear the sound of explosions.
Richard Beal, a selectman and constable for the town of Cranberry Isles, said Friday those sounds may have come from Great Cranberry Island, where he lives. The man under investigation has family connections to the island, he said.
Beal said he and other island residents heard the sounds of explosions there about a month ago.
“I do remember one hellacious noise,” Beal said.
People on the island at first did not know what the source of the booming noises was, he said. His understanding now is that they may be related to the investigation in Bar Harbor, he added.
According to Kerns, the man told police he had used up all the Tannerite he had acquired. Police did not find any of the unexploded substance at the man’s home, he said.
Regardless of the outcome of the State Fire Marshal investigation, the man has been told by police not to use Tannerite targets again.
“He’s been warned to cease,” Kerns said.
Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.