Sheriff’s deputies briefly evacuated a fast-food restaurant and stopped traffic near a shopping center Sunday morning after finding what they thought were dynamite sticks in a parking lot.
The suspected explosives turned out to be railroad flares.
Three flares wrapped in electrical tape and a three-foot fuse were discovered at about 6:30 a.m. in the parking lot west of a McDonald’s restaurant at the intersection of Soledad Canyon and Bouquet Canyon roads, said Sgt. Mike Becker of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. The parking lot also services a Kmart and several other businesses in a separate shopping complex.
Sheriff’s deputies said they have no motive or suspects in the incident, but they believe the flares were intended to scare people.
Employees at the restaurant said they inspected the flares and called the sheriff’s station after a customer found them lying next to a parked car.
“I kind of nudged it with my foot,” said Brian Cappelletty, assistant manager of the restaurant. “I didn’t know what it was. Nothing happened, so we went back in and waited for the police to arrive.”
Deputies closed the drive-through lane of the restaurant and cleared the parking lot for about 50 yards around the flares, but allowed customers into the restaurant through the north entrance until arson and explosives deputies arrived at about 8:45 a.m.
Sgt. Howard Rechtschaffen placed six 50-pound bags of compost around the flares to minimize possible blast damage. The restaurant and an area 100 yards around the bags were then evacuated while deputies halted traffic on Soledad Canyon and Bouquet Canyon roads.
The flares were detonated at about 9:15 a.m. without incident, using an explosive device set off from a distance by remote control.