Explosives found inside man's home

Federal and local authorities sealed off a Martinez home Saturday and searched it for explosives after learning the homeowner had been injured in a small blast days before.

Officials with the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Fort Gordon; the Columbia County Sheriff's Office; and the Richmond County sheriff's bomb squad spent much of the day at 319 Sally Drive, off Furys Ferry Road near River Watch Parkway.

Authorities said they arrived Friday after learning the home owner had been injured in an explosion Tuesday.

Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said "bomb-making ingredients" were found at the home, but authorities were still identifying materials and expect to resume a search for any other potential ingredients today.

Capt. Morris identified the homeowner as Chad Wells, 37.

He said Mr. Wells, a Realtor, lived there alone and "has lost one if not numerous fingers."

Beth Frits, a spokeswoman for the Joseph M. Still Burn Center, said Mr. Wells was in good condition Saturday.

Officials were searching the home; its backyard, which includes a shed; and an area across the street.

They said any explosive materials would be removed and disposed of.

Anthony Russo, a supervisory senior resident agent for the FBI's Augusta office, said the case was turned over to the ATF after officials ruled out any connection to terrorism.

"There was no imminent risk to the community," he said.

Capt. Morris said Mr. Wells has been interviewed, but no charges had been filed.

Mr. Wells initially told authorities he had been injured in a firecracker accident, Capt. Morris said, "but the injuries to his hand and what we have observed at the scene tell a much different story."

Agent Russo said his office was contacted Friday by the hospital after reviewing the man's injuries and "comments he may have made to staff."

Agent Russo would not describe those comments.

Officials said they were in the process of determining the amount of bomb-making ingredients at and around the home Saturday.

Robert Cave, who lives across the street, said Mr. Wells has lived in the area for about five years.

"He's been pretty quiet," he said.

Mr. Cave said that for the past six months, he had heard explosive "thumps" coming from the home.

He said he didn't think anything of the sounds at the time, but added, "He just didn't know what he was getting into. It might have got too big for him."

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 823-3338 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.