‘Bomb' turns out to be homemade hi-tech auto device

The device was damaged by a freeze so the owner had thrown it away.

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WALLA WALLA - A bomb squad was called in from the Tri-Cities after an usual ammo box containing liquid filled jars with wires attached was found in a trash container.

According to a Sheriff's report, at about 5:30 p.m. Friday, Michael Steven Padget of 20 Rome St. discovered an ammo box with plastic pipes and wires sticking out in his trash container.

Padget opened the box and found three jars with liquid inside and wires running into the jars, at which point he called dispatch.

After deputies arrived, they confirmed that Padget had found something that looked like a bomb. They called the nearest Washington State Patrol bomb squad in the Tri-Cities.

Another nearby residence was evacuated, and Walla Walla County Fire District Four was called in and put on standby.

While the deputies waited for the bomb squad to arrive - which would be about 80 minutes - another neighbor approached deputies and to ask about the commotion.

After listening to the deputies' explanation, the neighbor asked if a certain old truck was parked out back, which it was.

Then the neighbor called the owner of the truck.

After their conversation, the neighbor told deputies the owner of the truck had previously installed a homemade hydrogen generator, and the neighbor said he had seen the device on the truck.

A hydrogen generator is a device that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then added to the vehicle's air intake to help boost fuel efficiency.

It turned out the homemade device was damaged during a recent winter freeze; so it was removed and discarded in the trash bin.

About the same time deputies made this discovery, the bomb squad arrived.

After inspecting the device, bomb squad specialists said they probably wouldn't have known it was a hydrogen generator, according to the report.

Then they asked if they could take the device with them to use in training.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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