CHESAPEAKE CITY — Investigators from the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal are asking for the public’s help in determining how improvised explosive devices got onto a wooded lot owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after they were discovered Wednesday afternoon, July 17, officials reported.
A passerby reportedly found the devices amongst some debris about 1:16 p.m. July 17 in an area across from 1 Mallard Drive, which is the location of a mobile home community off Bethel Road near the Delaware state line. The devices were also about half a mile from a popular entrance to the Corps property off Bethel Cemetery Road.
Emily Witty, public information officer for the fire marshal’s office, said the devices, which she declined to describe because of the ongoing investigation, were found in a well-traveled area of the Corps property popular with hikers and riders of four-wheel-drive vehicles.
“It appeared to be a homeless or transient encampment,” she said of the pile of old clothes and other debris.
Witty said investigators could not tell if the devices — the exact number of which would not be made public — were being hidden or had simply been discarded.
“Whoever created them is still at large,” she said.
Witty emphasized that the person who found them did the right thing by calling 911.
Upon discovery, the Chesapeake City Volunteer Fire Company and Cecil County Sheriff’s Office helped secure the area. Bomb squad technicians were called to the scene to recover, disable and remove the devices, officials reported.
Witty said the devices are being studied in an attempt to determine who made them, and also why.
“It was risky to leave them in a high-traffic area,” she said, noting the explosives are indicative of a home-made device, not military ordnance.
No one was injured and no damage was sustained in the incident.
Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to contact the Office of the State Fire Marshal at 410-419-4460.
The site has many public and private uses, including as the Corps’ Bethel Dredge Material Containment Area and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Bethel Managed Hunt Area and Chesapeake Wildlife Management Area.
The site is open to hunting for all game species during the regulated hunting season from September to February. Hunters are required to have a permit to hunt and a daily reservation to access the area. Outside the hunting season it is open to fishing, hiking, bird watching, nature photography, etc., with a non-hunting permit required.