Massachusetts State Police Trooper, K9 partner, bomb squad, respond to suspicious container



Photo courtesy of Massachusetts State Police

Multiple agencies, including a K9, responded to an incident on Tuesday at a Massachusetts Fire Department.

According to Massachusetts State Police, at 6:30 p.m., members of the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad responded to the Pembroke Fire Department to examine a container that had been left at the firehouse earlier in the afternoon by a member of the public.

Trooper Michael Rockett, who responded with his K9 partner and six-year-old yellow Lab Nancy, assessed the container, which was labeled “orange hand signal smoke” and bore the name Coston Signal Company.

An Internet search revealed that Coston manufactured maritime signaling devices such as flares for the Navy, the US Life-Saving Service (the forerunner of the US Coast Guard), lighthouses, and weather services well into the 1900s.

Upon opening the container, Trooper Rockett observed eight hand-tied burlap sacks filled with an unknown black substance similar in consistency to black powder. The sacks were packaged in loose sawdust, consistent with packaging methods from the early 1900s for transportation of energetic material.

Members of the MSP Bomb Squad determined, given the appearance and suspected age of the material — which was most likely manufactured for the maritime industry to create smoke signals once ignited — that destruction of the powder was necessary.

Bomb Squad Sergeant William Qualls and Trooper Richard Crespi responded as well and the three bomb techs prepared a burn barrel in which to destroy the material at a safe location. The material was burned off without incident.

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