Any bottle with wire or fuse is suspect

According to a Mail Tribune story that ran earlier this summer, a passer-by notified authorities of an acid-filled bottle bomb in the Albertsons parking lot. What makes this or any other bottle bomb "suspicious"? How do you differentiate between somebody's litter and a potentially dangerous explosive?

— Sam V., Medford

Illegal in all forms, bottle bombs can be made from a variety of crude objects.

A bottle should be deemed "suspicious" and reported to police if there are wires or fuses extending from the bottle, objects or debris taped to the outside of the bottle, contents that don't match the label on the bottle, or a cap that has been modified or taped, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.

The bomb found in July behind Albertsons on Ross Lane was a 2-liter bottle wrapped in duct tape and filled with hydrochloric acid.

"It didn't go off as intended," Budreau said. "All the chemicals were there to make an explosion, but for whatever reason, it didn't explode. ... We destroyed it on-site. We didn't even mess with it."

Budreau said bottles are a common medium for mischief because they are (1) easy to obtain, (2) cheap and (3) a closed and, therefore, pressurized container.

"Most people are making them to have fun as opposed to creating injury or damage, but the consequences can be deadly," he said.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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