SPRING HILL — Authorities evacuated the house at 13523 Banner Road on Sunday evening, then warned nearby residents: You might want to leave, too.
Sitting on the living room floor were two bundles of red sticks, wrapped with duct tape in groups of three, with wires coming out the ends.
A Citrus County bomb squad robot, named Andros Robot, slowly approached the red sticks, which looked like dynamite. The robot placed the suspicious objects in a ventilated chamber, where officers secured them, then drove them to Citrus for testing.
The results: road flares.
What turned out to be a false alarm came shortly after 6 p.m. Sunday. Ross Mackawgy had been going through the belongings of his mother and stepfather, Ruth Mackawgy-Fish and Harry Fish, both recently deceased.
Mackawgy, whose stepfather served in the military, found wires sticking out of a box in a garage cabinet. Inside, he saw what looked like sticks of dynamite.
"It was dynamite," auctioneer Charles Fudge said with certainty. Fudge is helping sell the family's assets.
Mackawgy, who was not available for comment Monday, told Fudge he was going to call 911.
When Hernando County sheriff's Deputy Brandon Cox arrived at the home, near Barclay Avenue and Spring Hill Drive, he told Mackawgy to leave. He then suggested to neighbors that they evacuate.
Deputies blocked the street and cordoned off the house for a few hours, waiting for the Citrus County Bomb Squad to show up with Andros.
The robot worked quickly, said Larry Donovan, 30, who was visiting his parents across the street.
"It was pretty fun," Donovan said. "It was the first time I saw that thing besides on TV."
When the robot, mounted with a camera, found the bundles of red sticks, Citrus sheriff's deputies told Cox the objects were likely harmless road flares, which the testing confirmed.
"We're just thankful nobody was hurt," said Hernando sheriff's spokeswoman Donna Black.
Officials said Mackawgy did the right thing by calling authorities.
"It did look suspicious," said Heather Yates, media relations coordinator for the Citrus Sheriff's Office. "Really, truly, it did look like a bomb."
Michael Sanserino can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1430.