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Insect trap mistaken for bomb
Street closed, residents evacuated as authorities investigated
0720  mosquito trap
A mosquito catcher caused quite a stir Wednesday when it was mistaken for a bomb. A street was cleared and GBI was on its way when authorities on site realized the mechanism in question was an insect trap, not an explosive device. - photo by Lewis Levine

A case of misidentification sent emergency personnel scrambling and closed streets Wednesday night in Hinesville.

According to an incident report filed by Hinesville Police Department Patrolman Robert Smith, a mechanism thought to be an explosive device was found in the backyard of a home in the 500 block of Myrtle Lane.

Smith said he was dispatched to the home of Sharee Fountain shortly after 8 p.m., where Fountain told the officer she left her home around 6:30 Wednesday morning and returned later that evening to find a device covered in a trash bag in her backyard near the driveway. The device, Fountain said, was humming, had wires coming from it and was connected to a battery.

Smith, who was unsure what the device was, described it in his report as a plastic container like a drain pan with metal- frame bars and a black cone connected to a battery.

Within minutes, the quiet street was sealed and teeming with Hinesville Fire Department trucks, police and members of the Liberty County Emergency Management Agency. Area residents were advised to leave, and a Georgia Bureau of Investigation explosive team was called in to identify and dismantle the device.

While waiting for the GBI squad to arrive, Capt. Chris Moss called Hinesville Fire Chief Lamar Cook, who arrived on scene and immediately recognized the device as a mosquito catcher. Cook later said that he had seen the same mechanism earlier in the day when the Liberty County mosquito control department placed them on a route he normally exercises.

Kenna Grahm, parks and ground supervisor for the Hinesville Public Works department, was called to the scene and identified the mosquito catcher as one he placed at the residence earlier that afternoon.

Fountain was informed a month ago the mosquito catcher would be placed on her property, Grahm said, and a voice message was left on her home answering machine.

"Apparently she saw the catcher before she listened to her messages," Grahm said.

An hour and a half after the street was sealed off, GBI left the scene and routes reopened.

Grahm said the department has two mosquito catchers that are used to collect Culux family mosquito specimens, which are known to transmit diseases such as the West Nile Virus.

"The specimens are separated and sent off for studies," Grahm said. A mixture of hay and water is used to attract the insects, which then are sucked up a tube into a net, he explained.

To identify the devices, Grahm said, the public works department has ordered signs similar to those used to indicate the presence of a home alarm system.

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