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Incendiary Devices Found On Power Lines In Tyngsboro

TYNGSBORO (CBS) -- Several incendiary devices were found on National Grid power lines in Tyngsboro and now the FBI is leading a multi-agency investigation into the incident.

Firefighters were called to wooded area off 60 Locust Avenue Wednesday afternoon for a small brush fire under some high-tension lines. After it was put out, they noticed something unusual hanging from the wires.

"Crews that responded to the scene noticed items that didn't appear to be part of the transmission system and alerted National Grid. National Grid assessed the situation and alerted law enforcement," FBI Special Agent in Charge Harold Shaw said in a statement Thursday.

State Police and FBI bomb technicians found "multiple incendiary devices similar in structure to pipe bombs in the area."

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Peter Kowenhoven said the devices were cylindrical metal objects and that they needed to be "manually activated," but would not say how many authorities found.

"There was some pre-planning in this," said Kowenhoven of the FBI. "These devices were home-made."

Kowenhoven said the devices were incendiary in nature--meaning they were made to create extreme heat and fire--and not explosive. Tyngsboro Police Chief Richard Howe said there was reason to believe that sparks from the devices caused the fire Wednesday afternoon.

A State Police helicopter flew above the lines Thursday looking for any other similar devices. Kowenhoven said the intent of the person or persons who built the devices was not clear, but that terrorism was not suspected.

"As of today, we have no proof or evidence that is linking this to a terroristic act," said Kowenhoven.

He said authorities were "looking at numerous individuals" as part of the investigation, and that there had not yet been any arrests.

The high-tension lines run from the Canadian border to New York City.

Shaw said utility companies across the country were notified about the Tyngsboro incident.

"National Grid is working with law enforcement authorities on this issue," said company spokeswoman Danielle Williamson. "The company's transmission system is secure, operating normally and there is no effect on service to customers."

tyngsboro map
The power lines are located behind Locust Avenue in Tyngsboro. (WBZ-TV graphic)

"There is no apparent danger to the public as the devices have been secured," Tyngsboro Police said in a statement Thursday. "We are not commenting on the nature of the devices at this time. An area search by personnel and helicopters is ongoing to determine if more devices are in the area."

A law enforcement source told WBZ-TV's Ken MacLeod there was also concern because, a few years ago, a disgruntled National Grid employee was suspected of trying to cut or dismantle wires in that same area.  As a result, they were worried it might be that same person trying to do something to the wires again.

Tyngsboro Suspicious Devices
Multiple suspicious devices were found strapped to power lines on Locust Avenue in Tyngsboro. (Photo credit: Tom Matteo - WBZ-TV)

Anyone with information is asked to call Tyngsboro Police at 978-649-7504.

There was an earlier report that similar devices were found in Tewksbury and Leominster, but authorities said that was false.

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