FONTANA (CBS) — Al Qaeda is reportedly exploring a new way to attack the U.S., encouraging terrorists to make homemade “fire bombs” to start massive wildfires in California and the western U.S.

Al Qaeda magazine gave step-by-step instructions on how to build and use an “ember bomb,”  which sends flaming embers out into the dry fields.

Battalion Chief Julie Hutchinson said that’s when CAL FIRE jumped into action.

“The magazine had very specific outlines and drawings and details on how to create that ‘fire bomb,’ so we felt it was in our interest to go ahead and put that together and determine what kind of threat it was,” she said.

Listen: KNX 1070’s John Brooks talks to Battalion Chief Julie Hutchinson:

An unclassified bulletin from CAL FIRE and the California Threat Assessment Center described how the agencies wanted to test out the al Qaeda “fire bomb,” so they followed the instructions. But the bomb didn’t ignite on the first try.

They lit it with a match and it burned for nearly 12 minutes, but it sent out no embers, and failed the test.

“It wasn’t as effective as they alluded to in the magazine,” said Hutchinson. “That doesn’t mean they couldn’t create something else, (but) we don’t see it being a real serious problem that they’re going to be able to use those here.”

Fire officials said the ineffectiveness of the “fire bomb” in testing is encouraging. However, they urge residents to report any suspicious activity and take the normal precautions that should be taken every year during fire season to protect their homes.


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