Bomb made in garage explodes Teen is hurt in blast

neighbors evacuated, 2nd device defused

November 22, 1996|By TaNoan Morgan | TaNoan Morgan,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Tanya Jones, Edward Lee and Andrea F. Siegel contributed to this article.

A homemade pipe bomb about the size of a roll of quarters exploded in the garage of an Arnold home, injuring a 13-year-old boy and causing the evacuation of the neighborhood while authorities destroyed a second device.

Blaine Fairbanks of the 900 block of College Drive was treated at Anne Arundel Medical Center emergency room for a 4-inch cut on his palm, bruises and minor facial burns, fire officials said. He was expected to be released last night, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Manufacturing a pipe bomb and possessing bomb-making materials are both felonies and are punishable by a 20-year prison sentence.

The youth has not been charged, but the state Fire Marshal is investigating the explosion.

Whether the youth will be charged will depend on the intended use of the devices, said Anne Arundel Fire Department spokesman J. Gary Sheckells.

Blaine, who is an eighth-grader at Severn River Junior High School, was dismissed at noon and arrived at his home near Anne Arundel Community College minutes later.

In the family home's two-car garage, Blaine used gunpowder from his father's shotgun shells to fill the short piece of pipe, said his 17-year-old brother, Bill Fairbanks.

The youth was drilling the pipe shortly before 1 p.m. when a spark ignited the gunpowder and the bomb exploded, Bill Fairbanks said.

The explosion left shrapnel embedded in the walls and ceiling of the garage but caused little other damage, said bomb squad leader Jack Waldner.

Blaine wrapped his bloody hand in a paper towel and ran upstairs to tell Bill, who called for help.

"I didn't hear anything," said Bill, a senior at Severna Park High School who was home from school sick yesterday.

"He just came upstairs and said he was drilling a pipe bomb and it exploded on him," Bill said. "I don't know why he did it. I guess he just got bored."

When ambulance crews came, they saw another pipe bomb in the garage and notified the Fire Marshal, which sent its bomb squad and robot, Sheckells said.

Authorities evacuated about 10 homes in the Campus Green neighborhood and closed College Drive at College Parkway until 4: 30 p.m.

Belvedere Elementary School kept about 10 children from the neighborhood at the school instead of dismissing them with the rest of the school's pupils at 2: 15 p.m.

The Fire Marshal's bomb squad found the second pipe bomb in the rear of the garage and surrounded the device with sandbags.

About 4 p.m., technicians used a remote-control tool to pull the end caps off the device, causing a loud pop and ending the threat of another explosion.

Campus Green residents said they were surprised that the youth, whom they often saw playing in the neighborhood, would build a bomb, but most chalked it up to the foolishness of youth.

"I'm somewhat disturbed by it," said Peter Freeman, a 20-year resident of Arnold. "But I was a teen-ager once, and I did some pretty crazy things, too. Young people do experiment."

"It's scary to think that a 13-year-old is making pipe bombs," said Bob Pratz, who has lived in Campus Green for seven years. "But guess what, 13-year-olds have been making pipe bombs for years."

Classmates described Blaine as a "class clown" who made good grades, but at least one classmate said she wasn't surprised that he might have been playing with a pipe bomb.

"Last year, we were talking about how people used to stick forks into the [electric] sockets at school," said Stephanie Rolland who had six classes with the Blaine last year. "He said he would probably do it."

Pub Date: 11/22/96

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