Thursday, June 5, 2008

Mortar Fires Up Durante

Mortar Round found

Montco Sheriff issues warning after second scare
By CARL HESSLER Jr., For The Times Herald

COURTHOUSE — Another “fishy” mortar round, apparently found on a New Jersey beach, caused a stir at the Narberth police station on Monday.

A woman appeared with the questionable World War II-era 60 mm mortar round at the police station about 11 a.m. after she reportedly discovered it while digging in her yard, according to authorities.

Authorities determined the mortar round was “live.”

“These munitions are extremely dangerous. Their explosive weight will do damage in a 300 yard circumference. These munitions, or mortar shells, are equivalent to three sticks of dynamite,” Montgomery County Sheriff John P. Durante said during a news conference where he warned the public.

“Dropping them can set them off. Riding in a car can set them off, or burying them,” Durante added.

The Narberth incident, which resulted in the police station being evacuated until bomb experts could safely remove the device from the premises and detonate it, marks the second time in 10 days that county authorities have responded to such findings. (read more after the jump):

On May 23, members of the Sheriff’s Bomb Disposal Unit recovered a live mortar shell from the backyard of an Upper Dublin home and had to detonate it.

“These, we understand, are being recovered at the Jersey Shore on the beaches of Long Island for the last three years or so. These munitions were probably disposed of at sea,” Durante explained. “Our speculation is that they were souvenirs found and brought home. We believe these things were taken innocently, there was no intent for any criminal purpose other than to say, ‘I have a souvenir.’”

Durante explained there is no way for the common citizen to determine if the devices are safe simply by looking at them.

“I am reaching out to the public to ask anyone that brought one of these home within the last three years to notify us,” Durante added. “Do not touch them, stay away from them. All explosives are dangerous.”

Durante, who was joined at the news conference by Captain Charles P. DiSanto and Deputy Kraig Klass, commander of the sheriff’s Bomb Disposal Unit, said residents who have or discover such devices should call their local police, who will then summon the bomb squad to remove the devices.

“For the sake of your neighbors and family, please do contact the police so we can disarm them in a safe fashion,” Durante said. “This is a potentially dangerous situation.”

At the news conference, Durante showed photographs of the mortar shell and showed the media how it was detonated. Durante said he called a news conference “in the interest of public safety” to alert Delaware Valley area residents against the dangers of picking up such mortar rounds as souvenirs on beaches and taking them home.

During Monday’s incident, the local woman, who authorities did not identify, showed up at the Narberth police station about 11 a.m. with the mortar shell and announced her finding. The station was immediately evacuated.

“This could have had very, very sad consequences,” Durante said.

During the May 23 incident, the Upper Dublin homeowner reported that her son-in-law was aboard a fishing boat off Barnegat Light in New Jersey two years ago when a mortar was dredged. The man brought the shell home for his son, according to Durante.

The mortar shell set in a garage until this year when the homeowner had a family member bury it, according to Durante.

However, after reading news reports about World War II-vintage munitions surfacing in the sand of New Jersey beaches, the woman grew concerned and notified authorities, who summoned the bomb disposal experts.

Officials said the mortar was “live.” It was transported to an undisclosed site and detonated, authorities said.

“Both of these devices had their firing pins in them. If they were dropped and the springs released the firing pin they would have exploded,” said Durante, referring to the devices found in Upper Dublin and Narberth.

Police in Upper Dublin and Narberth investigated the incidents.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am GLAD Durante came out swinging over this one. People are so friggin' stupid. And the fire personnel who told those Narberth people to just "drop" the bomb off should be relieved of their post for that. They KNOW better

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