More than 1 million rounds of ammunition, a cache of weapons and a tunnel were found inside a man's home after an explosive fire that forced a neighborhood evacuation, authorities said Friday.
Three 25-gallon containers filled with an unknown fluid were found in the tunnel, which began in the garage and stretched about 10 feet into the backyard. The fluid was being analyzed by hazardous material experts, said Norco Fire Department Battalion Chief Ron Knueven.
Firefighters responded to a blaze Thursday afternoon at the Norco home, about 45 miles east of Los Angeles, and found what was believed to be the largest amount of ammunition ever discovered in the county, authorities said.
The fire caused some of the ammunition to explode, forcing evacuation of the neighborhood and keeping firefighters at a distance. The blaze, which caused the roof to collapse, was eventually extinguished.
"It sounded like firecrackers, they were going off quite a bit," said neighbor Frank Jackson, who rushed home when he heard about the fire.
When he got there, he said firefighters were swarming over the burning house but the explosions were so intense that firefighters on the roof had to abandon it.
"The shells were going off and you had to back off," he said.
On Friday, sheriff's deputies aided by agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives combed the house for evidence.
Dozens of metal and cardboard boxes filled with ammunition for shotguns, small handguns and assault rifles recovered from the home sat in a driveway. Two of the assault rifles were illegal and the man had no permit for 75 pounds of black gunpowder that was found, said Riverside County sheriff's Deputy Juan Zamora.
Authorities also discovered a machine in the garage that was used to load the gunpowder into empty casings. The practice known as "reloading" is common and not illegal because ammunition is often expensive, ATF spokeswoman Susan Raichel said.
No arrests have been made. The man, whose identity was not released, was taken to a hospital where he will receive a psychological evaluation, authorities said.
The man also tried to run back into the house after firefighters arrived and had to be restrained by sheriff's deputies, Zamora said.
Last April, authorities said they found more than 1,300 weapons and 89,000 rounds of ammunition in the San Bernardino County home of a man who claimed to belong to a militant group with aims to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Robert Ferro of Upland faces counts of unlawfully owning and failing to register guns.