A 911 call Thursday led to a precautionary evacuation of an entire street in a Northwest Side neighborhood over concerns about a possible small nuclear reactor and alpha waves reported by a resident who said he sustained burns in his garage on the device. In the end, authorities found no hazard. The man will undergo a mental-health examination and may face charges of inducing a panic.
A Northwest side man will undergo a mental-health evaluation after his 911 call Thursday night led emergency responders to evacuate his entire street over concerns about a possible small nuclear reactor and potential radiation in his garage, a fire official said.
The man, who is in his late 20s or early 30s and who resides on the 6300 block of Chippenhook Court, called 911 about 6:15 p.m. and reported he had been sustained burns from a device he was working on in his garage.
Battalion Chief Steve Martin, the Columbus Fire Division’s media spokesman, said the man’s description of the device suggested he was working on a small nuclear reactor and included references to a particle accelerator and alpha waves. The latter reference led to concerns about potential radiation, he said.
Hazmat, bomb squad and other emergency responders — operating out of an abundance of caution — evacuated the approximately 40 residences on the cul-de-sac street in the Cranston Commons development while they assessed the situation, Martin said. The residential development is located off Route 33 (Riverside Drive) on the west side and Sawmill Road on the east.
Cranston Drive was closed between Route 33 and Dummerston Court, the next cul-de-sac street east in the subdivision.
The man told bomb squad, arson fire investigators and medics on scene that he sustained “radio frequency burns” while working on a “quantum physics generator” in his garage, Martin said.
“We have no reason to believe that he was trying to make anything that would do anyone any harm,” Martin said.
He said medics determined the man did not appear to be injured, at least not seriously.
Radiation level checks were conducted on the man and then at the residence and nothing was found, Martin said.
A nuclear specialist brought to the scene found in the garage what was identified as a homemade capacitor, Martin said. A capacitor is a device which consists of two or more separate conducting plates and is used to store an electric charge, not unlike a battery.
After it was determined there was no threat, residents were allowed to return to their homes at 9:20 p.m. The male resident was taken for a mental-health evaluation, Martin said.
Depending on the evaluation and further investigation, it is possible the man will be criminally charged with inducing a panic, Martin said.
Only one injury was reported: a firefighter in a hazmat suit was injured when he unepectedly came off a curb and twisted his ankle, Martin said. He was being treated at the scene by fire medics.