Family members cleaning out a relative’s garage Sunday in Arroyo Grande made an unexpected discovery when they opened a dusty old box: an apparent World War II-era hand grenade and a “practice” mortar shell.
The items — which were located near a newspaper dated Dec. 10, 1953 — belonged to a 91-year-old World War II veteran who lived in Arroyo Grande for 30 years and died in September, said David Hill, the man’s nephew.
He said his uncle, Paul Hill, had enlisted in the Army and served in Europe during World War II.
David Hill called police, who responded about 10:20 a.m. to the 100 block of Rosewood Avenue. Officers didn’t know whether the grenade was live, though the safety pin and handle were still attached, said Arroyo Grande police Cmdr. Chuck Gerhart. The mortar shell did not contain explosives.
The San Luis Obispo County Bomb Task Force was called and residents nearby were evacuated. Both items were disposed, and the incident ended about 12:30 p.m.
Gerhart urged anyone who finds an explosive to contact local law enforcement immediately. David Hill shared his own public service announcement: “If you find an old box somewhere and have no idea what’s in it it’s probably better if grown-ups go through it.”
— Cynthia Lambert