The area around the Port Alberni Shelter and John Paul II school has been given the all clear after the RCMP’s explosives disposal unit finally made it to Port Alberni to deal with a suspected homemade bomb found in the area.
The storm delayed the unit, which is located in the Lower Mainland, until Friday morning, Dec. 21.
“The device has been rendered safe,” Port Alberni RCMP Cpl. Amelia Hayden said. “It was found to have several components of an explosive device but did not contain any explosive material,” she added.
Port Alberni RCMP received a call at 10:33 a.m. on Dec. 20 that a homemade bomb had been discovered at the Port Alberni Shelter, in the 3900-block of Eighth Avenue in Port Alberni.
“The shelter along with nearby homes were evacuated and a neighbouring school [John Paul II School] was advised,” Hayden said. The school was apparently in the middle of its Christmas concert when the incident began to unfold across the street.
“All students and staff were moved to a safe and secure area. Displaced residents took shelter from the rain at the Port Alberni (RCMP) detachment,” she added. Shelter residents spent the night in an emergency reception centre set up at Echo Centre by the City of Port Alberni and Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.
One man was arrested in connection with the homemade explosive device, Hayden said Thursday.
RCMP maintained the cordoned off area until the bomb squad arrived and the situation was dealt with. “With the storm, the explosives disposal unit is still stuck on the other side,” Hayden said late Thursday. The unit had to wait until BC Ferries was able to make the crossing between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.
“Until it was deemed safe, the perimeter (was) maintained,” Hayden explained. The RCMP did not know whether the device was real or not, and could not make that determination until the explosives disposal unit arrived with their specialized equipment.