NANAIMO — RCMP say parts from commercial fireworks are what sparked a significant response at downtown Nanaimo's tent city on Friday night.
Cst. Gary O'Brien said the bomb squad brought in from the mainland discovered what was originally thought to be a homemade bomb was all items used in commercial fireworks, found in a plastic bag. The bag was originally put into a nearby sharp needles container to put it out of reach.
"Our explosives unit actually us by having it placed in the sharps container, if it had been lit, it could have caused serious damage because of the needles and hard plastics in the box. But that never happened, no one was hurt and everything is back to usual."
He said it's unlikely any charges will be laid but RCMP are still investigating.
Fireworks were previously blamed for an explosion at Discontent City in the summer, where camp spokespeople on the ground said a man was building a home made pipe bomb using fireworks components and it exploded. NanaimoNewsNOW heard from liasons in the community there was a resident at Discontent City with a fascination for explosives and he would create pipe bombs to then go explode them on railroad tracks.
A large portion of Discontent City was evacuated after a resident reported finding what appeared to be makings for a homemade shrapnel bomb.
Nanaimo RCMP Const. Gary O'Brien told NanaimoNewsNOW the resident informed police about the discovery late Friday afternoon. It was placed against the chain-link fence opposite Port Place Shopping Centre, O'Brien said.
"As a precautionary measure we've evacuated a good portion of tent city," O'Brien said.
A large area around the scene was barricaded off and residents evacuated from the camp were escorted to the Salvation Army's New Hope Centre.
The RCMP explosives team arrived at 1 Port Dr. just after 11 p.m. on Friday and removed the possible explosive.
Tent city resident Gina Watson told NanaimoNewsNOW her husband, Mike Pindar, found the suspected bomb while the couple were packing up their belongings to prepare to leave the camp.
"He came across the remnants of gunpowder, bearings and a wick in a plastic sandwich baggy. I guess that's enough," Watson said.
She said it's unclear whether the bag came from inside or outside tent city, but felt it was meant as a direct attack.
"We've had no respect in the camp the past three, four months. It's not right, it's scary. Especially with all the threats on Facebook and stuff, being called a junkie and this and that."
On Twitter: @NanaimoNewsNOW