SIDNEY — Several homes were evacuated and a section of Summerhaven Road was closed for several hours Saturday as the Maine State Police bomb squad inspected the contents of a van that crashed near Birch Circle.

Police said there was no bomb, but the driver, Dennis Patrick Stewart, 42, a transient last known to live in the Augusta area, was charged with operating without a license and violating conditions of release. Stewart also was issued citations charging him with failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle and operating a defective motor vehicle.

A passenger in the van, Edward Fleisher, 45, of Augusta, was taken to the hospital for an evaluation.

Stewart was driving his 1992 Chevy van south on Summerhaven Road around 3 p.m., when he lost control and went off the road between a tree and a utility pole and hit rocks and an embankment, said Sgt. Scott Taylor of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Pierce arrived to find nobody had been seriously injured in the crash, but what he discovered inside the damaged van raised suspicion. Pierce saw propane tanks in the back connected to wires that went to the dashboard. Taylor said the van also held an assortment of acetylene tanks and other potentially explosive material.

Pierce called for Sidney firefighters to inspect the van. Firefighters, in turn, called for the bomb squad. The section of Summerhaven Road was closed and homes in the area were evacuated as a precaution.

The ordeal was over by 8 p.m., about five hours after it started. “Come to find out, it was OK,” Taylor said.

Stewart, a mechanic, works out of his van and all the equipment and wiring was directly related to that, Taylor said.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]


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