Bomb squad called after YMCA science experiment goes wrong in Los Osos

Dry ice bomb was part of a sanctioned demonstration at day camp

acornejo@thetribunenews.comJune 18, 2014 

A dry ice experiment gone awry at a summer YMCA youth camp in Los Osos led to the San Luis Obispo County Bomb Task Force being called Tuesday.

The bomb squad was called by Cal Fire at 5 p.m. to assist at Baywood Elementary School in Los Osos with what appeared to be a failed dry ice bomb, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Tony Cipolla.

“We were able to disarm the device around 7:20 p.m.,” he said. “It turned out to be a sanctioned YMCA science experiment.”

Dry ice bombs can be made by putting a combination of water and dry ice in a plastic bottle. The explosion, caused by expanding carbon dioxide in the bottle, is often quick and thunderous.

Cipolla said the legality of a dry ice bomb is a “somewhat gray area.”

“Any explosive device that is utilized to cause injury or damage is obviously illegal,” said Cipolla. “In this case, it’s my understanding that the YMCA staff was demonstrating different chemical reactions using dry ice. Two of the devices were successfully set off, but a third did not.”

Monica Grant, CEO of the San Luis Obispo County YMCA, declined to comment on the experiment but did say her staff acted appropriately by contacting authorities when they felt there might be a safety threat.

“We are aware of an incident that occurred at one of our day camp sessions yesterday. It is currently under investigation by our Y. The safety of our campers and staff are our foremost concern at all times,” Grant said in a written statement Wednesday. “At no time was the safety of any camper or staff in danger.”

Grant said parents of the campers were contacted Wednesday to discuss the incident.

“We regret the incident and have taken steps to ensure that there will never be a recurrence of any activity that could potentially put children and staff in harm’s way,” Grant wrote.

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