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Explosives came from ski resort

Tribune News Service

A man accused of setting off a bomb on the Fourth of July in downtown Tahoe City apparently stole the explosives from the ski resort where he worked during the winter.

Kenneth Jon Manuel, 29, a Kings Beach resident and former ski patrolman, was arrested by Placer County sheriff’s officers. The blast sent four people to the hospital with shrapnel wounds, lacerations and abrasions.

Manuel was held Monday in Placer County Jail in Auburn on $75,000 bail. His arraignment is scheduled today at 2:30 p.m. in Tahoe City.

Manuel placed approximately two pounds of the explosive in a traffic cone in an alley near Fanny Bridge and set it with a 90-second fuse, according to a sheriff’s department release. The four victims were walking by the cone when the device detonated.

A search of Manuel’s residence uncovered several additional pounds of explosives, blasting caps, safety fuse and igniters. Those items were taken by the Placer County Sheriff’s Department Explosive Ordnance Team for evidence. Authorities would not reveal the ski resort where the explosives came from.

A nursing supervisor at Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee said three of the four victims were treated and released Saturday night. One victim, C.R. Powell of Truckee, remained at the hospital overnight and was listed in stable condition Sunday afternoon. He was released Monday.

“I’m in good shape. I’ve just got a bunch of holes in me,” Powell said. “It could have been a lot worse. I could have lost a hand or a foot.”

Powell, 24, said he was walking near an alley by the Yogurt Factory in Tahoe City when he heard and felt the explosion. “The first thing I felt was the concussion,” Powell said. “My jeans were in tatters and my sweatshirt had huge holes in it.”

The victims were approximately 25 to 30 feet from the bomb, said Sgt. Bill Langton with the Placer County Sheriff’s Department .

“If they had been right on it they probably would have been killed,” Langton said.

Langton also said that he had no idea why Manuel, an individual he said was trained in explosives, would detonate two pounds of it.

“It was just a bonehead move,” he said.

The explosion occurred just before the annual fireworks show in Tahoe City, where thousands of people had gathered. The blast was heard and felt 2 miles away. Windows, buildings and vehicles were damaged in the vicinity.

“It was a big, big boom,” Langton said. “I was up on Dollar Hill and you could feel it and hear it from up there. I would not have wanted to be one of those four people walking by at the time.”

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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