Youth arrested after explosives found

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The Independent Online

Four controlled explosions have been carried out after officers found chemicals and home-made explosives at a house in Lancashire, police said today.

The bomb squad was called to the property on Grane Street in Haslingden, Lancashire, at 4.30pm yesterday. They found the chemicals and explosives and immediately evacuated surrounding homes.

Four controlled explosions were carried out in the street outside the house late last night and in the early hours of this morning.

A spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said: "A local 17-year-old was arrested at the scene on suspicion of possessing explosive devices and he remains in custody at a local police station."

She said: "It is not believed to be terrorism-related. It is more a case of an over-enthusiastic A-Level chemistry student who lives at home with his parents."

A 100-yard cordon was put in place around the house and 40 neighbours taken to a local leisure centre while the bomb squad carried out the explosions in the street outside the terrace house.

Police were first called to carry out the search at 4.30pm yesterday after receiving a tip-off.

Lancashire Police said officers found a quantity of what are believed to be chemicals and evidence of home-made explosives inside the house.

A major incident was declared and the bomb squad was called in. Police evacuated five houses and threw a 50-yard cordon around the house, while the ambulance and the fire service were put on standby.

The cordon was then extended to 100 yards and 40 residents taken to the Haslingden Leisure Centre overnight.

Four controlled explosions were then carried out at 11.50pm, 12.15am, 1.25am and 1.45am. The area was made safe and residents were allowed back into their homes.

Colin Webb, 57, who lives next door to the house in Grane Street, said he first knew there was something wrong at about 6.45pm yesterday when police started banging on his door.

Mr Webb, a civil servant, said: "My son answered the door and a police officer was there. He said we'd got to get out and that they were evacuating because they'd found an explosive device.

"We came out. There was obviously a sense of urgency but there was no panic, the police were dealing with it really well.

"I was lucky and went to stay at my son's house but other people got sent to evacuation centres."

Mr Webb said his son drove past later last night and saw a bomb disposal team going in and out of the property.

He said: "My son saw a line of guys in white overalls with masks over their heads carrying heavy bags of material out of the house.

"I drove past at about 12.30am and a police officer told me there had been a controlled explosion, but that was all we could find out then. It has all calmed down now."

Mr Webb said his first thought was that there could have been a terrorism incident.

He said: "It was a bit worrying, especially with the events of the last six months. When you don't know the facts, you don't know what to think. You think there can't be terrorism, not in Haslingden.

"This is not an everyday occurrence, it's not like in London when people are more used to things like this. We were facing an unknown situation."