Live grenade found in dumpster

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August 24, 2006

It's the last thing you'd expect to find in a dumpster: a live grenade that's used strictly by the Army.

So how did it wind up in an Augusta storage unit?

Only on 12, Kate Tillotson tracks it down and talks with a bomb technician about the dangers it posed.

Any grenade poses a threat, and this one was live.

That means if it was mishandled, it could have gone off and it could have cost lives.

It's almost unreal...finding a live, M-67 fire grenade in an Augusta dumpster.

"Hand grenades are tricky," says bomb technician Ray Jones. "You never know."

The explosive, used strictly for Army purposes, was originally planted in a storage facility. It was spotted later during an inventory check.

Jones was called immediately.

"The spoon was still intact, but the safety pin had been removed and it had been taped off," he says.

Following protocol, the bomb squad replaced that safety pin and transported the device to its Blythe headquarters.

But we wanted to show you what could have happened had it been set off or mishandled. So we asked Jones to show us what the explosion would have been like.

"It's a hands-on thing," Jones says. "It's not something you just put in a bag and carry around. You want to maintain total control over it."

Jones has a box of what he calls "war souvenirs". It contains all sorts of formerly dangerous items, from a military smoke grenade to artillery projectiles. There's even a stick of dynamite.

Several of these items were found right here on our streets.

"And some people have them in their house and just have no idea what it is," Jones says.

It's a scary thought: not knowing what could be in your neighbor's dresser drawer...or even in the storage bin next to yours.

The weapons in Jones' collection are inert, which means they are not dangerous. In fact, inert weapons are often collectibles.

If you've seen anything that looks like a weapon, say in your grandfather's attic, you must understand: if it's live, it is illegal.

So call the sheriff's office, and someone there can help you figure it out.