Last Friday, something happened at Ryan’s school that I never figured would happen in the small quiet town of Waterdown: the school was evacuated because of a suspected bomb. One of the caretakers was on the roof of the school getting tennis balls and such that had been thrown up there, when he saw a pipe sealed up with tape, and a wire sticking out of it. He told the head caretaker, who told the vice-principal, who called the police, and they evacuated the school (all 700+ students, plus 50+ teachers and staff) into the gym of Waterdown District High School, which is right next door. The bomb squad was called, and they sent their robot up onto the roof, which knocked the bomb-like thing down onto the ground. When it didn’t explode, they blasted it with a water cannon, which destroyed it. What they found inside was puzzling: two batteries taped together and an empty bottle of white-out. I believe they took the contents to their forensics lab, where they will hopefully pull some CSI-magic and find out what idiot (or idiots) made this fake bomb.
I am certainly no explosives expert, but I don’t get this. White-out is almost certainly flammable, considering there’s alcohol in it, but would it explode when connected to a couple of batteries? If it would, would the explosion be powerful enough to blow up the pipe that they were inside, let alone do any damage to anything around it? My guess is no, but even if that were true, what’s the point of using an empty bottle? On the other hand, if the idea was to make something that just looked like a bomb, then why put anything inside it at all?
The discovery happened around 10:30, and I happened to find out about it earlier than most other parents. I was working at home (as I do every Friday), and had headed over to the school around 12:00 to do a couple of quick administrative things for Gail (school council chair, dontcha know), and that’s when I saw all the police tape and stuff. I went back home, and then my neighbour came by a couple of hours later to say that they were asking parents to come and get their kids, so I went over and got Ryan. This was about 1:45, and he hadn’t eaten since breakfast, since their lunches were all still in the school. I asked him what they had done while in the gym, and he simply said “we sat”. They apparently put a movie up on the screen in the gym at one point, but he didn’t know what movie it was. The principal sent a note home to all the parents on Monday explaning everything, and also saying that the police had told him repeatedly that this was the most orderly and speedy forced evacuation they had ever seen. I suppose it served as an emergency preparedness test, which they passed with flying colours, so something good came out of it.