Bomb squad removes hazardous materials from San Pablo home of late chemist

A bomb squad began investigating hundreds of boxes with several hazardous materials, including some explosives, found at the home of a late chemist on Wednesday afternoon in a San Pablo backyard shed. 

The discovery of 1,000 bottles of an unknown substance at a home in the 900 block of Stanton Avenue - by the brother of the homeowner who died – prompted the evacuation of hundreds of residents in the area, Contra Costa Fire Protection District spokesman Chris Toler said. 

At a news conference, Toler said that the biggest problem was that these chemicals were being held in improper and unstable containers and there were all sorts of chemicals stored next to each other, which may not have been a safe idea. 

Toler said that it appears as though it was illegal to store the materials like this in a neighborhood, there was no evidence that the materials were part of a drug or meth lab. 

The evacuation was expected to last at least 24 hours, but likely be over by the end of Thursday. 

According to county supervisor John Gioia, he had been collecting chemicals for 50 years. No one has yet provided the man's name to verify who he was or where he worked. 

More specifics weren't immediately known. 

Authorities were alerted to the situation after the homeowner's brother took chemicals to a recycling center, and he was asked about where he got them, Toler said. 

The brother is cooperating with the investigation, Toler said.

Neighbor Maribel Suarez said the homeowner died about six months ago and the home was empty for a while. 

"The brother of the guy came over and started cleaning the house and I guess he found some biohazards," said neighbor Maribel Suarez. 

Those unknown biohazards caused the immediate evacuation of the neighborhood between Giant Road, Miner Avenue, 11st Street and Palmer Avenue on Wednesday about 1 p.m. 

Toler said officials wanted to give the bomb squad room to work as they transported materials away

The Contra Costa Community College gymnasium, at 2600 Mission Bell Drive, is open to evacuees. 

Bay City News contributed to this report. 

KTVU contributed to this report.