A small incendiary device exploded at the Bass Lake Courthouse this morning at about 4:30 a.m., according to Cal Fire and the Madera County Sheriff’s Department.
Karen Guillemin of the California Department of Forestry (CDF) says that an incendiary device placed at the glass doors at the back of the building shattered the glass, damaging the paint and charring the surrounding area.
Madera County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that several threatening calls were received claiming that another device was set to detonate, but that never happened and no other devices were found. The sheriff’s office is investigating the calls, which were reportedly made to a TV station and a newspaper.
Investigators from CDF and the Sheriff’s Department are working with the FBI to determine who is reponsible for the incident, and may be assisted by video cameras located both inside and outside the building.
“We are taking it very seriously,” said Frank Benard of the Madera County Sheriff’s Department. “Arson, of course, is a serious felony. Making a bomb threat would be considered a terrorist threat. This went way beyond just someone making a threat to the facility. People could have been injured had there been someone present at the time.”
Fortunately, he noted, no one was in the building when the device detonated. Crews replaced the door and cleaned up the damage, and the courthouse is expected to re-open on Wednesday.
People who had court cases on the docket today were told they would have to reschedule, and employees waited outside for updates on the situation.
No suspects are in custody at this time, and anyone with information is asked to call the Madera County Sheriff’s Department at 559-675-7770.