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Soda-bottle bomb detonated near hotel

Incident reported at about 1:45 a.m. at Spring Hill Suites

September 06, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com

The Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the detonation of a soda-bottle bomb early Monday morning in the parking lot of the Spring Hill Suites hotel on Valley Mall Road nearHagerstown.

Two of the devices were placed in the parking lot of the hotel at 17280 Valley Mall Road, but only one exploded, said Bruce Bouch, a spokesman for the fire marshal's office.

The incident was reported at about 1:45 a.m., according to a news release from the  fire marshal's office. There were no injuries or property damage.

Bouch said the bottles contained a volatile mixture of tin foil and toilet-bowl cleaner.

"They are considered an improvised explosive device," Bouch said. "They are extremely dangerous."

Bouch said the mixture causes the inside of the bottle to over-pressurize and explode. The mixture, which includes hydrochloric acid, can cause blindness, skin burns and respiratory issues, he said.

Death can result in worst-case scenarios.

"There are many cases when they actually have exploded in a person's hand while making the product," said Bouch, noting that there's no way to determine exactly when the bottle will explode after the contents are mixed.

Bouch said soda-bottle bombs have been around for decades, but their popularity has grown with social media.

"It's gained in popularity because of YouTube," Bouch said. "They're like training films."

Detonating soda bottle bombs is a felony and carries a punishment of up to 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, Bouch said.

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