Brewer IED contained flash powder used in fireworks, police say

Brewer police evacuated the offices of the Brewer Housing Authority and several nearby apartment buildings on Thursday, July 18, after a suspicious device was found by a maintenance worker.
Brewer police evacuated the offices of the Brewer Housing Authority and several nearby apartment buildings on Thursday, July 18, after a suspicious device was found by a maintenance worker.
Posted July 24, 2013, at 3:40 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — The improvised explosive device that led to the evacuation of tenants and employees from Brewer Housing Authority offices and apartments last week contained flash powder, which is used for fireworks and can be highly explosive, Brewer police Capt. Chris Martin said Wednesday.

“As it was explained to me, that quantity of powder in a container, if it were to go off, would cause significant injury to a person if they were in close proximity to it,” the police captain said.

The device was found shortly before 2 p.m. Friday near Colonial Circle off Chamberlain Street by a Brewer Housing Authority employee, who subsequently called police. It consisted of firecrackers, an electronic component of some sort and a light powdery substance in a small plastic pill bottle, Gordon Stitham, director of the housing authority, said describing the device. The light powdery substance is the flash powder, Martin said.

Flash powder is used in pyrotechnics such as fireworks. It was found exposed in the pill bottle and therefore deemed more sensitive to heat and static electricity that could have set it off, the police captain said. The fact that it was found in a residential area means that an explosion could have been catastrophic, he has said.

Brewer Housing Authority banned the use of fireworks on its property in February 2012, shortly after they became legal in Maine.

The incident forced the evacuation of 50 tenants and 16 housing employees. Bangor Police Department’s bomb squad removed the device at 3:45 p.m. and everyone was allowed to return. No one was injured.

“The incident is still under investigation,” Martin said. “[There are] no named suspects yet.”

Detective Sgt. Jay Munson, who is the lead detective on the case, met with an investigator with the state fire marshal’s office on Tuesday and continues to interview witnesses, the police captain said.

Those with information about the ongoing investigation should call Brewer Police Department at 989-7001.

BDN writers Dawn Gagnon and Ryan McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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