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‘Potentially live’ World War I explosive discovered in Bay Area family’s bedroom

Grenade (jftben Müller/Pixabay)
October 16, 2021

A grenade believed to date back to World War I was found — and shortly after detonated — at a Bay Area home Monday afternoon.

According to a press release from the Los Altos Police Department, a Los Altos homeowner found what they believed to be a grenade inside an elderly relative’s bedroom.

Shortly after Los Altos police arrived to the 1700 block of Christina Drive, a largely residential area bordering South Los Altos, aid from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s bomb squad was requested, the report said. (The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from SFGATE.)

The bomb squad determined the weapon to be a World War I “vintage grenade” believed to be “potentially live.” As a result, four neighboring homes were evacuated, police said.

And “out of an abundance of caution,” police said, the bomb squad opted to detonate the grenade in the backyard of the home — with emergency crews on the ready in case a fire started.

PG&E was also at the scene to “conduct an underground service assessment.”

Fortunately, no damage or injuries were reported.

Karis Erwin, a spokesperson at the National World War I Museum and Memorial, told SFGATE that World War I grenades come in a variety of forms and “were made from varied materials,” so the one found inside the home would be tough to identify without more information. The most common grenades used by Americans in the war were manufactured in France, Germany and the United States, according to the museum.

Like clockwork, an arsenal of vintage military explosives have been uncovered throughout the Bay Area over the past two decades. In 2003, three World War II grenades were found inside a bedroom located in the Inner Sunset. And in 2016, detonators exploded World War II grenades in the Outer Sunset.

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