Updated: December 29, 2011 at 12:00 am
Eight homes were evacuated as dozens of police, bomb squad experts and federal agents swarmed through a home east of downtown Friday to remove a cache of possible homemade fireworks police described as “very serious and dangerous materials.”
Police had descended on the home of Edward Kiley on Thursday night after neighbors reported two loud blasts that rattled their homes and shook the ground.
A large cloud of smoke hovered around Kiley’s house after the first blast, said Ron Koch, a neighbor. A second explosion followed soon after, this time in the sky above the house. It didn’t resemble a firework, Koch said. Rather, the explosive flew into the sky and exploded in a puff of smoke.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Koch said.
Police on Thursday evening arrested Kiley, 57, on suspicion of unlawful possession or use of an explosive device, a class 4 felony. He was taken to the El Paso County Jail and held in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Authorities waited until Friday to search Kiley’s house, on the northwest corner of Vermijo Avenue and Prospect Street in the Hillside neighborhood. Once inside, authorities found unstable chemicals and asked residents in nearby homes to leave.
The chemicals are common among people who build homemade fireworks, said Rob McCloy, resident agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“So many of these people see stuff on the Internet and say ‘Hey, I can make that,’ but don’t understand the ramifications,” McCloy said.
He said Kiley apparently searched the Internet to find and buy the chemicals found in his home.
Kiley told police that he picked up the hobby about six months ago, ordering supplies and reading instructions from the Internet, according to an arrest affidavit.
“…he stated that he just was curious,” the affidavit said.
He’s since set off six homemade explosives at his house and “out east,” the affidavit said. But his most recent experiment caught the attention of police.
Officers found a large metal mortar tube just outside Kiley’s front door, pointing in the air. Inside it was burnt powder residue.
Kiley told police he had six explosive devices in his house, which were often built in cardboard tubes, the affidavit said.
Residents were allowed to return to their homes at 6 p.m. Friday, though police planned to remove more homemade devices from the house Saturday.
Gazette reporter Ryan Maye Handy contributed to this report.
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