Police: Foreclosed homeowner to blame for haz-mat scare

Police: Foreclosed homeowner to blame for haz-mat scare »Play Video
SEATTLE -- The police bomb squad has cleared a South Seattle home where suspicious materials were found.

Lt. Greg Sackman said investigators found several propane tanks, most of them empty, and jerry-rigged fire extinguishers at the home at 3217 S. Edmunds St.

"The way they were set up, it initially looked like somebody had placed them in a position that either something would go off if we tried to make entry or something like that," said Sackman.

Sackman said one of the fire extinguishers "was rigged so if you pulled the wire and opened up the gate (to the house), the fire extinguisher would go off. "

No explosive devices were found at the home. Investigators did find powder, which was determined to be a mixture of sugar and chemicals from the fire extinguisher.

Officers initially believed the house may have been booby-trapped, but later determined it had only been made to look like a threat by the former homeowner, who'd recently undergone foreclosure.

"(The former homeowner) was not happy, pretty much made it more difficult for the cleanup crew," Sackman said.

Officers were called to the scene by a cleaning crew just before 1 p.m. The crew became sick while cleaning the foreclosed house on Friday, but did not report the problem until Monday afternoon.

Police have identified the 51-year-old former homeowner, who is a suspect in the case. He remains at large.

Members of the Seattle Police Department SWAT team were also at the house to provide security, officials said.