'Bomb factory' house in Escondido area to be burned down
The house just outside Escondido where massive amounts of explosive materials were found has been declared a public hazard and will be burned down, San Diego County officials told area residents Tuesday night.
A nearby stretch of Interstate 15 will be closed during the process, and some nearby residents will be evacuated, officials said.
The house, dubbed the "bomb factory" house by officials, was found to contain amounts of materials of the kind used by terrorist bomb makers worldwide, as well as blasting caps, homemade grenades, and small-arms weapons.
The resident of the house, George Jakubec, a 54-year-old Serbian emigre, has been charged with 26 counts of possession of bombmaking materials and two counts of bank robbery. He has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail in lieu of $5 million bail.
The county has invoked its legal authority to declare a public emergency and to seize the house as a threat to public safety, a county lawyer explained to a town hall meeting of residents called by officials.
Bomb experts last week declared the one-story stucco house on Via Scott to be too dangerous to re-enter. On two occasions, they had entered the cluttered house and gathered evidence.
Sheriff Bill Gore said at the meeting that burning the house is the only safe way to rid the neighborhood of the explosive materials.
The materials include pentaerythritol tentanitrate (PETN), which is used by Al Qaeda terrorists and is the material that federal officials hope to discover through the new full-body screening and patdown procedures being used on airline passengers.
None of the charges against Jakubec involve the sale or use of explosives, and no motive for his alleged actions has been announced. His estranged wife suggested that he is mentally unstable.
The fire could be set between Dec. 8 and Dec. 10 but could be delayed depending on weather conditions, officials said. Safety barriers will be erected, some residents may be asked to leave and others to remain in their homes during the fire.
Jakubec was renting the home along the leafy, dead-end street. The owner of the home, who did not attend the town hall meeting, is discussing compensation with his insurance company, officials said.
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Don Bartletti / L.A. Times