'Bottle Bombs' a Class 5 Felony
Loudoun County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management urges residents to call them in and avoid any contact.
Following last month’s discovery of a “bottle bomb” at Rotary Park, Loudoun County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management has released the following statements:
- Building, having or detonating a bottle bomb is a violation of the VA Code §18.2-85 Manufacture, possession, use, etc., of fire bombs or explosive materials or devices.
- It is a Class 5 Felony (1-10 years in jail and/or less than or equal to a $2,500 fine) for the manufacture, possession, transportation, distribution, or use a firebomb or explosive device and a Class 6 Felony (1-5 years in jail and/or less than or equal to a $2,500 fine) for a hoax device. A bottle bomb is categorized as an explosive device.
- The basic concept is to use a chemical or thermal reaction to cause a vessel (the bottle) to violently vent or explode.
- Basic safety concerns with bottle bombs are fragmentation hazards if in a close proximity during the vent process and chemical burns from any chemical residue or splash during the venting process.
Back in June, one reader said that while serving in the military it was “common practice for soldiers to create these so-called ‘bottle bombs’ out of ordinary items given to them, for harmless fun.
He asked, "If you classify a "bottle bomb" as an illegal explosive device, does that mean a diet coke and some Mentos is one also?”
Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s spokesperson Laura Rinehart said that when they look to determine if a bottle bomb is a device, they assess it as more than just a plastic bottle with “stuff” inside. The intent of the bottle bomb is evaluated such as the contents and the potential to create harm.
“For example, do they crease a persistent and/or corrosive agent? Did the container rupture or was it a projectile,” Rinehart said. “If the “stuff” inside is not harmful, there was no ill intent and no damage or harm was created, then most law enforcement officers would not classify it as a device.”
If you find a "bottle bomb" it is recommended that you keep your distance, request assistance by calling 911 or local law enforcement and do not attempt to handle any potential devices.