Douglas High students learn about explosives |

Douglas High students learn about explosives

by Amy Alonzo
A "wall of fire" — five, one-gallon jugs of gasoline — goes up in flames Thursday during a Bomb Squard demonstration at the Douglas County Shooting Range.
Brad Coman |

Douglas High School students were playing with fire Thursday.

Earlier this year students in Kathy Shipley’s advanced placement English enrichment classes wrote research papers about explosives, and on Thursday their efforts were rewarded by a demonstration from the Tahoe Douglas Bomb Squad at the Douglas County Shooting Range.

“I think it brought home the applicable aspect of what they’re studying,” Shipley said. “It’s so tangible.”

Bomb squad members had set up an array of explosives around the range, including dynamite, blasting caps, TNT, tannerite and a pipe bomb.

Students who scored well on their essays were allowed to detonate the devices from safe distances using remote firing devices.

Some of the smaller explosions elicited comments from the students such as “that was cute,” while the larger explosions had students covering their ears, jumping into the air with surprise and exclaiming “schnieke!”

“You see it before, and then you feel it,” junior Ally Foster said.

The demonstration culminated in what Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jeff Schemenauer, a member of the bomb squad, called a “wall of fire” — the detonation of five, one-gallon jugs filled with gasoline.

“Cool,” said junior Peri Buck.

Although students were entertained by the explosive awareness and demonstration day, Schemenauer said he hoped students learned something as well.

“This is a destructive power you don’t mess around with,” he said. “There’s a dichotomy of explosives I want them to be aware of.”

The Tahoe Douglas Bomb Squad is one of four squads in the state — there are fewer than 30 bomb technicians in the state, he said. The local squad covers the Douglas County, Carson City and South Lake Tahoe areas, although “the reality is we’ll go anywhere in Nevada that calls us,” he said. He estimated the squad responds to about 20 or 25 calls per year.

Toward the end of his presentation, Schemenauer held up an explosive device in front of the students.

“If you ever come across one of these, call your bomb squad — that’s what we’re here for,” he said.