The Times West Virginian

August 16, 2008

Police investigate, detonate suspected bomb

Fairmont Avenue blocked for hours

By Katie Wilson

FAIRMONT — West Side’s main thoroughfare was blocked for hours while police investigated and then detonated a suspected bomb Friday night.

Fairmont City Police responded to a report of a suspicious package Friday after a 911 call from a passerby.

The call came in at 8:30 p.m. Police arrived on scene to find what they described as a suspicious package, said Cpl. Gene Staley of the Fairmont Police Department.

The West Virginia State Police bomb squad unit detonated the device at about 11 p.m. A sharp, loud blast was heard, accompanied by a small flash and a puff of smoke.

Staley said the bomb squad detonated the device in a water cylinder.

At press time, it was not known if the device was actually a bomb.

Staley was officer in charge of the shift and in charge of the scene. He described the package as a green military-style metal ammunition container with a one-gallon can of oil attached. The device was found on the sidewalk at the corner of 9th Street and Fairmont Avenue near the West Side McDonald’s, he said.

Police immediately blocked off traffic for two city blocks.

Ultimately, traffic was blocked from 7th Street at GoMart to 10th Street. All businesses and other buildings along Fairmont Avenue in the affected area were evacuated, including Burger King, McDonald’s and U.S. Cellular. Those staying at the Avenue Motel were moved to the back of the building.

Staley said every available Fairmont City Police unit was on scene. The Marion County Sheriff’s Department and the State Police were taking all emergency calls within the city. At Eighth Street, civilians volunteered to direct traffic crossing Fairmont Avenue to help officers.

In addition to the Fairmont City Police and the West Virginia State Police, the Fairmont Fire Department and Marion County Rescue Squad responded to the scene.

E-mail Katie Wilson at kwilson@timeswv.com.