AMID a scene of devastation where all else had been blown to smithereens one thing remained standing — a white, home-made rocket with a nuclear symbol painted on its side.
How it was not wiped out with everything else in Saturday’s massive early-morning blast at Derrinallum is astonishing. But it stands as a sinister reminder of the obsessions that drove Glenn Sanders to blow himself and his humble home to bits after a seven-hour stand-off with police.
A disturbing picture of Sanders as a mystery man with an unhealthy love for explosives is emerging two days after the huge blast that shocked the sleepy town on the Hamilton Highway.
It is believed Sanders, 48, died in the blast, although that had not been confirmed as the bomb squad continued to investigate the scene Sunday, when human remains were found.
Two special operations senior constables from Melbourne were hurt in the explosion.
One remains in a serious but stable condition in The Alfred hospital. The other was taken to the Geelong Hospital and treated for minor injuries. He has since been discharged.
Sanders was known to police and they had arrived at his property on Friday night to arrest him. What followed was a seven-hour siege that ended with an explosion so great it could be heard 30 kilometres away.
Although no one expected an outcome as grave as this one, there were warning signs that Sanders was a timebomb just waiting to detonate.
He had been depressed after the death of his second wife and had started to act strangely, keeping to himself.
One resident told of loud explosions that could be heard coming from Sanders’ property at all hours of the day and night.
Others, who also did not wish to be named, told The Standard that he often left his home and came to town with explosive devices concealed on his body.
He said it was known around town that Sanders would have explosives on him whenever he left his house. “He liked the attention and the reaction he got. There was the (torpedo-shaped) mailbox and the rockets and the jokes he could blow up the town,’’ the man said.
“Everyone just thought he was harmless.
“When the explosions became more common and he was getting around with explosives on him, that’s when the police started to become involved.” Others said Sanders was a talented and gifted mechanic who would build farm machinery, motorbikes and racing cars, but became reclusive later in life.
It is believed his partner died two years ago.
His mother is ill in hospital in Ballarat and he is not thought to have any other close family.
The blast shook the district at 1.20am on Saturday. Police had arrived at his home about 7pm to arrest him for a violent incident that occurred earlier last week.
Sanders became agitated, refused to give himself up and threatened self-harm.
Trained siege officers negotiated with him for seven hours before the explosion tore through the property, sending debris in all directions.
Aerial pictures on The Standard’s website show the extraordinary aftermath of the explosion with chunks of masonry, iron and timber thrown hundreds of metres.
Yesterday the bomb squad remained at the property sifting through the splinters of timber and warped sheets of steel that once made up his house, searching for more explosives.
Crime scene officers were still unable to access the site and the area remains in lockdown.
Residents said it was common knowledge Sanders had explosives buried around his property.
It’s believed his explosives licence had been revoked but he made explosives using bits and pieces he could legitimately buy.
“He was very clever, with his hands and his head,” a local said.
Another resident said Sanders “had some issues” and things had been “spiraling out of control” over the past two or three years.
“He had some people close to him pass away and he became a bit reclusive,” he said.
“It’s a sad situation. You don’t want this sort of stuff happening. It’s a shame that other people had to be hurt.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing an emotional crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Website: lifeline.org.au