UPDATED 05/17/11 9:22 p.m.

WESTERN SPRINGS, Ill. (CBS) — Every mailbox in Western Springs was checked by police in Western Springs and U.S. Postal Inspectors overnight, after a pipe bomb was found in one earlier.

The pipe bond was found Monday evening in the drop box at 53rd Street and Lawn Avenue, in the Forest Hills subdivision of the western suburb.

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Fire Chief Anthony Bednarz said his department received a call about 6:30 p.m. about smoke coming from the mailbox, and a postal worker who opened the box found a pipe inside the plastic container into which the mail drops.

The fuse had been lit causing the mail to start on fire, which caused the smoke.

“The fuse did not detonate in the device,” Bednarz said.

Firefighters initially check the box themselves with a thermal imaging camera but did not pick up much heat, prompting the call to the postal service. Once the pipe was detected, the bomb squad from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office was summoned, and they moved the bin to a remote area on the northeast corner and surrounded by sandbags.

“We went to the homes about four deep around the perimeter and told everybody to stay inside the house,” Bednarz said. “It’s safer to stay in place than come outside.”

Bednarz said the bomb was in a 6-inch diameter pipe that was capped at both ends.

“Apparently the bomb was not assembled properly, that’s why it did not detonate,” he said.

The bomb squad rendered it safe by taking one end of the device, the chief said. But it wasn’t until about 9:30 p.m. that the all-clear was given for the neighborhood.
“If that had detonated and the product in there was the right powder, it would have done a lot of damage,” Bednarz said. “Those little pipe bombs can be very destructive.”

Bednarz said he has no idea why it was put there, and an investigation is under way being led by postal inspectors.

“It was in a very residential area, a very remote drop box,” he said. “The police along with the postal inspector opened all 15 other boxes in the village to make sure there was nothing in those containers, and there wasn’t.”

WBBM & Pioneer Press contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

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