ST. PETERSBURG — Bomb squad technicians safely detonated seven sticks of dynamite on Tuesday after the explosives were found on the side of a road and taken to the county trash incinerator, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
Ronald Knous, 52, of St. Petersburg, said he found the dynamite in a plastic bag near the northern edge of the city. St. Petersburg police said he found them near the Home Shopping Network at 2501 118th Ave. N.
Knous recognized the explosives because he has previous experience with them, according to the Sheriff's Office. He told Bay News 9 that five sticks were still wrapped and two were loose. He also said they didn't appear to be "fragile." Deputies said they were quarter-length sticks, and not full-sized sticks of dynamite.
Hoping to properly dispose of them, Knous put them in the bed of his pickup and drove to the nearby Pinellas County Solid Waste Operations and Waste-to-Energy Facility at 3095 114th Ave. N. He thought there might be a bomb disposal unit there, authorities said, but no such facility exists in Pinellas.
So he took the dynamite to the Household Electronics and Chemical Collection Center at 2855 109th Ave. N, where personnel called 911 about 9:30 a.m. The center was briefly evacuated and Knous' pickup and the explosives were left in the parking lot.
The Tampa Bay Regional Bomb Squad took the dynamite out of the pickup and set it off in an empty field near the Pinellas County solid waste facility just before 2:30 p.m., deputies said.
Authorities temporarily closed traffic on 28th Street between 109th Avenue and 118th Avenue and shut down a nearby stretch of southbound Interstate 275 just before the blast. They also warned news helicopters to stay away from the blast area.
The Sheriff's Office and the St. Petersburg Police Department will conduct a joint investigation to determine just how the dynamite ended up on the side of a public roadway in the first place.
Belleair Police Department Lt. Bill Sohl used to work with the old St. Petersburg police bomb squad before it was disbanded years ago. He said old dynamite is dangerous if it starts to sweat the explosive material nitroglycerin. That kind was used decades ago to destroy tree stumps in Florida, he said, but not so much anymore.
The modern types of dynamite are more stable, he said. But authorities did not say what kind of dynamite was found.
"What they did is the best thing they can do," Sohl said. "Put a countercharge on it and destroy it."
Times staff writer Emily Nipps contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8472.