GOLD HILL, Ore. -- Jackson County Sheriff's Office deputies are warning people to be wary of old military souvenirs tucked away in storage after a live WWII-style mortar shell was found in a home this week.
On Thursday, January 4, 2018, a Gold Hill woman reported finding a World War II-style mortar shell in a shed on her property in the 400-block of Chavner Street. It had been stored there as long for more than 30 years. She took the mortar out to her yard and set it on the ground before calling dispatch.
Deputies responded and requested assistance from the Oregon State Police Explosives Unit. A military Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit was then sent from the Portland area to collect the device. In the meantime, deputies notified neighbors and blocked off the area. The EOD team took the mortar to a safe location for detonation. Nobody was injured during the incident.
Deputies say these cases happen from time to time; usually the item turns out to be an inert shell kept as a souvenir. In this case, it turned out to be a live device and the homeowner was unaware of the potential danger.
"Unfortuntately it's common. We find a lot of training devices that weren't live. Every once and a while, we find a live device that someone used a souvenir from back in the war. This one had been in the storage shed for over 30 years,"said Sergeant Don Adams with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.
Sometimes people find these old devices buried on trails. Sgt. Adams said in the last few years, the sheriff's office has come across roughly five.
"Just our area we live in. It used to be an old logging area, an old mining area. So dynamite, the blasting caps, those kinds of things, we come across quite often," Sgt. Adams said.
He added army training base, Camp White also used to be in the area so any of these devices still around could be dangerous.
“The training ones look just like the live ones so that's why we take them all seriously as if they were a live device and contact the Oregon State Police Bomb Squad and have them come up and deal with it," Sgt. Adams said.
If you find a suspicious device on your property, military-type or otherwise, please do not handle it or move it to another location. Leave the item in place and call authorities so an expert can examine it safely.