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Small pipe bomb found at school.

Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard

A pipe bomb found in the boiler room of an elementary school Monday had been there since December, when a custodian discovered it in a school field and carried it inside, Eugene police said.

Members of the explosives disposal unit defused the device, a 4-inch-long piece of galvanized metal pipe complete with fuse. The device posed a real threat to the safety of students at Howard Elementary School, 700 Howard Ave., Sgt. Kris Martes said.

"Had it detonated, it could have maimed or killed someone depending on their proximity," she said.

Most of the students already had left for the day when a group of maintenance employees discovered the bomb while doing some work in the boiler room, Eugene School District spokesman Kelly McIver said. They called police at 2:28 p.m.

All remaining people were evacuated from the building, and an after-school program with 30 to 40 students was moved to nearby Kelly Middle School.

The device contained some kind of explosive substance that will be tested and identified, Martes said.

The school's former custodian told district officials and police that he found the device near the school's running track sometime in December. He assumed it was junk and brought it inside, unaware of its harmful potential, McIver said. The custodian went on permanent medical leave a couple of weeks ago and left the item behind, McIver said.

School Principal Kelly Finch had prepared a letter to send home to parents explaining what happened, McIver said.

The explosives disposal unit offers free sessions on bomb recognition and safety to businesses and other entities, Martes said. For more information about the service, contact the Eugene Police Department.
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Title Annotation:General News; The device had been stored in a boiler room by a janitor who thought it was harmless
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 10, 2004
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