Hanscom Air Force Base Returns to Normal Operations After Explosives Scare

Portions of Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts were evacuated Thursday after a truck tested positive for potentially explosive material.

U.S. Air Force officials said security forces detected a concern during a routine vehicle inspection around 9 a.m., causing the base to take "response actions."

That included the closure of the base's Vandenberg Gate near Route 2A and evacuation of several nearby base facilities. An area around the gate was also evacuated and a perimeter set up extending 1,500 feet from the truck. The vehicle in question was a moving truck owned by Big Foot Moving & Storage out of Acton.

The Air Force announced shortly after 1 p.m. that the truck had been cleared. The base has returned to normal operations and everyone who was evacuated allowed to return.

No one was injured.

"It was the right call by the U.S. Air Force and it was the right response," Massachusetts State Police Maj. Fran Leahy said Thursday afternoon. "We realize there was an inconvenience to some of the people who work and live here, but given the times we live in, we operate in an abundance of caution."

Pallets with what officials described as "potentially concerning residue" were removed from the truck and taken to a specialized facility for additional testing.

"We're confident that there is no explosive or energetic material that was encased inside that truck," said Sgt. William Qualls, commander of the state police bomb squad. "However, we did get a positive reading from those containers, so we are sending that to the lab to get a determination as to what exactly has caused our systems to pop positive for explosives."

Bob Harris, the operations manager for Big Foot Moving, said the owner was at Hanscom working with authorities. They said the company was at Hanscom in order to move a new recruit onto the base.

The Big Foot Moving & Storage, Inc. President and CEO Mike Bavuso issued this statement. 

"Big Foot Moving & Storage employees and company personnel complied with all request of state, federal and military authorities managing the inspection and investigation. Our vehicle and personnel have been cleared and we are thankful that the incident has been resolved. We assure our customers that we take this matter very seriously. The safety of our crew, customers and their goods is of utmost importance to us. We thank all the authorities and military personnel for their thoroughness and their commitment to protecting our country every day." 

Operations Manager Bob Harris explains that the pallets in the box trucks are used for military shipments that they do almost every day. 

"They come from everywhere, from overseas, everywhere," he said. 

Harris confirms two of his drivers were delivering household items to a military member on base. He would not disclose who hired Big Foot Movers or whose items were inside the box truck.

Footage from NBC Boston's Sky Ranger showed police removing more than 20 boxes and what appeared to be a mattress from the back of the truck.

Operations at other parts of the base continued despite the distraction, including civilian air service at Hanscom Field.

Massachusetts State Police said they were notified of a "suspicious truck" around 9:45 a.m. that had been stopped by base security at Hanscom's Gate 1. A standard screening of the truck and its cargo revealed indicators of potentially hazardous material. A second screening also came back positive. State police then responded to the scene and a canine unit also detected potential evidence of explosives.

The FBI, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the state Fire Marshal's Office are also assisting in the investigation.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he was briefed on the situation, but was not able to say much because the investigation was still ongoing.

Hanscom Air Force Base is located predominantly within Bedford, Massachusetts, with portions extending into the adjoining towns of Concord and Lincoln.

The Air Force base has been in existence since 1941 and has served as a major military research center.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us