A few unsettling moments for residents in the area on Monday afternoon, as the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad was called to Rodden Road, just east of the Highway 120-River Road-Rodden Road intersection to investigate suspicious, potentially explosive, items.
Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Royjindar Singh said the call came in about 4 p.m., after California Highway Patrol officers responded to the scene to check out a complaint.
A van that had been parked in the area for several days was the subject of the complaint, said Singh, and subjects associated with the vehicle were reported to be digging in the area alongside the roadway.
The subjects themselves also reported finding some unknown items that looked similar to road flares.
“They dug them up, they didn’t know what they were, they thought they might be old mining items, they were not sure if it was explosives,” Singh said.
The CHP called in the bomb squad to assess the situation and the roadway was shut down as a precautionary measure.
Singh, who also serves as a member of the department’s bomb squad, was among those responding to the scene.
“They had the size and consistency of a road flare,” Singh said of the unknown items, but said they couldn’t be positively identified as such. “They had 10 or 12 of these stick-looking things laying in the back of the van.”
Singh said bomb squad members took some small samples and did not get a reaction from the items that would indicate they were “explosive or energetic” material.
“We attached a blasting cap to it and tested three different samples,” he explained. “If you attach the cap and set it off, if the material you are testing is explosive, that will explode as well.”
None of the three samples exploded and Singh said authorities determined the items were not a threat.
Three of the six bomb squad members responded and there were several sheriff’s deputies on scene along with a sergeant, in addition to a couple of CHP officers and local fire personnel as a precaution.
“I would say we were done by about 5:30 p.m.,” Singh said of clearing up the items and opening the area back up to normal traffic.
The subjects associated with the van were not charged in the incident but Singh said based on complaints received about how long the vehicle had been in the area, they were advised by authorities to move along and vacate the roadway as well as told not to continue digging in the area.