Incendiary devices detonated at high school

Ashland police are sending three homemade incendiary devices that exploded in Ashland High School's quad late Tuesday or early Wednesday to a crime lab to check for fingerprints.

The bomb-like devices consisted of wine bottles filled with gasoline or a similar substance, Ashland Police Chief Terry Holderness said Thursday.

A fourth incendiary device made of a glass food container was also lit with a fuse but did not explode, he said.

No one was injured and nothing was damaged in the blasts.

School officials found remnants of the glass bottles strewn across the quad at 7:40 a.m. Wednesday and called police, Holderness said. The explosions occurred sometime before students and school officials arrived on campus Wednesday.

The incendiary devices did not appear to be sophisticated creations, Holderness said.

"Pouring gasoline in a bottle is not a terribly difficult thing to do," he said. "Probably the simplest incendiary devise is a simple Molotov cocktail, which is pretty close to what these were."

No one reported hearing the devices explode or seeing suspicious activity at the high school late Tuesday or early Wednesday, Holderness said.

Detectives are hoping the crime lab will find fingerprints on the bottles, leading them to suspects.

"Generally when something happens on a high school campus it's (done by) students, but not always, and this is an unusual situation," Holderness said. "We do have quite a bit of physical evidence."

Whoever detonated the bombs could be charged with vandalism and, possibly, attempted arson, he said.

However, Holderness said the incendiary devices didn't appear to be placed where they could easily cause a fire.

Under Oregon law, incendiary devices are not always considered bombs, he said.

"If the incendiary devices were not put in a place that was likely to cause a fire, they're not considered the same as a bomb," he said. "It's really how it's used that determines what the charges are."

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Ashland Police Department at 541-482-5211.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or

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