Authorities investigating explosives at Martinez home

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

Officials with the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Fort Gordon, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and 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 first arrived Friday, after learning the homeowner had been injured in a Tuesday explosion.

Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said “bomb making ingredients” were found at the home, but authorities were still in the process of identifying materials and expect to resume a search for any other potential ingredients tomorrow.

Capt. Morris identified the home’s resident as Chad Wells, 37. He said Mr. Wells, a Realtor, lived there alone, and “he has lost one if not numerous fingers.”

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

Today, officials were searching the Sally Drive property; its backyard, which included 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 ATF after officials ruled out any connection to terrorism.

“There was no imminent risk to the community,” Agent Russo 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 quantity of “bomb making ingredients” at and around the home on Saturday.

Robert Cave, who lives across the street from 319 Sally Drive, said the injured homeowner has lived in the area for about five years and, “He’s been pretty quiet.”

He said that for the past six months, he had heard explosive “thumps” coming from the home.

Mr. Cave said at the time he didn’t really think anything of the sounds he was hearing, but added “He just didn’t know what he was getting into. It might have got too big for him.”

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