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Lawrence authorities find bottle bombs, question teens

Bottle bombs found in Lawrence containing potentially dangerous household chemicals have prompted an investigation of some teenagers by city police and fire officials.

In the past two weeks, about 50 of the homemade explosives have been found in Lawrence, most recently in the Tower Hill neighborhood, Fire Chief Jack Bergeron said. After interviewing the teens, authorities believe the devices are made by packing volatile household chemicals that can explode when combined in plastic water bottles, he said.

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In some of the cases, the devices had apparently detonated.

The explosions “might sound like a .22-caliber rifle going off,” Bergeron said. “If somebody was standing nearby, they could get hurt by plastic shrapnel or the chemicals.”

Investigators are concerned that the teenagers making the explosives will burn themselves by coming in contact with the chemicals, he said. One boy who is believed to have made some of the devices has already reported slight burns to authorities.

No arrests have been made and Bergeron said authorities are working with juvenile courts to determine whether any charges will be filed.

Several of the explosives discovered in late March prompted the investigation, but Bergeron said authorities believe youths may have been making them for some time.

‘Somebody . . . could get hurt by plastic shrapnel or the chemical.’

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“We’re wondering if maybe kids picked it up on Facebook or Twitter and it took off like wildfire,” he said.

Todd Feathers can be reached at todd.feathers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ToddFeathers.
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