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Bomb squad detonates World War II-era grenade found in Palo Alto home

Military shell also located inside residence, deemed safe

A historic military shell and grenade located in a Palo Alto home on Thursday afternoon prompted an investigation by the Santa Clara County sheriff's bomb squad, which detonated the grenade hours after it was found, police said.

The discovery was made at a home in the 2300 block of South Court around 3:10 p.m., when a resident reported what they believed to be a World War II-era grenade and artillery shell while they cleaned a deceased relative's home in the company of an estate liquidator, according to a police press release. The resident took the items outside and cautiously placed them in the front yard.

Officers and the bomb squad responded to the scene, where residents in immediate proximity to the home were asked to evacuate out of an abundance of caution. The items were located in a den closet of the two-story residence, police Sgt. John Alaniz said.

By about 6 p.m., bomb squad members concluded that military shell wasn't a threat, but believed the grenade was possibly still live after inspecting the items with their equipment. They took the grenade to an open area in Hoover Park where the squad dug an 18-inch-wide hole in the grassy area of the park far from the Cowper Street side and buried the grenade, then covered it with a mound of sandbags, according to Alaniz.

The bomb squad crew took cover behind a concrete handball wall as the device was detonated just before 7 p.m. A cloud of gray smoke emanated from the pile as a bomb squad member was heard yelling "fire in the hole!" A fragment of the black grenade's outer shell was left after the detonation, along with several other charred pieces of material.

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There was no danger to about 20 people who were at the park and asked to leave the area prior to the detonation, or to homes near the open space, the department said. The park was closed for about 15 minutes.

No injuries were reported. Multiple police and fire units were on standby on South Court and at Hoover Park. Palo Alto Utilities employees responded as well to pinpoint gas lines in the area and Public Works crews provided sandbags used for the detonation.

Public access to South Court, a quiet, tree-lined street between North California Avenue and Oregon Avenue, was shut down for about three hours. The roadway reopened around 6 p.m.

Trevor Vaughan, a student who was returning from school in his family's car with his twin brother, Nathan, said they were greeted by police cars and the street was blocked off.

Mary Brodbeck, another neighbor on South Court, said residents couldn't bring their cars into the neighborhood.

Palo Alto police blocked traffic to the 2300 block of South Court between North California Avenue and Oregon Avenue due to a historic military shell and grenade found inside a home on Aug. 18, 2022. The grenade was taken to Hoover Park where it was detonated.

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Bomb squad detonates World War II-era grenade found in Palo Alto home

Military shell also located inside residence, deemed safe

by Palo Alto Weekly staff / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Aug 18, 2022, 4:31 pm
Updated: Thu, Aug 18, 2022, 10:50 pm

A historic military shell and grenade located in a Palo Alto home on Thursday afternoon prompted an investigation by the Santa Clara County sheriff's bomb squad, which detonated the grenade hours after it was found, police said.

The discovery was made at a home in the 2300 block of South Court around 3:10 p.m., when a resident reported what they believed to be a World War II-era grenade and artillery shell while they cleaned a deceased relative's home in the company of an estate liquidator, according to a police press release. The resident took the items outside and cautiously placed them in the front yard.

Officers and the bomb squad responded to the scene, where residents in immediate proximity to the home were asked to evacuate out of an abundance of caution. The items were located in a den closet of the two-story residence, police Sgt. John Alaniz said.

By about 6 p.m., bomb squad members concluded that military shell wasn't a threat, but believed the grenade was possibly still live after inspecting the items with their equipment. They took the grenade to an open area in Hoover Park where the squad dug an 18-inch-wide hole in the grassy area of the park far from the Cowper Street side and buried the grenade, then covered it with a mound of sandbags, according to Alaniz.

The bomb squad crew took cover behind a concrete handball wall as the device was detonated just before 7 p.m. A cloud of gray smoke emanated from the pile as a bomb squad member was heard yelling "fire in the hole!" A fragment of the black grenade's outer shell was left after the detonation, along with several other charred pieces of material.

There was no danger to about 20 people who were at the park and asked to leave the area prior to the detonation, or to homes near the open space, the department said. The park was closed for about 15 minutes.

No injuries were reported. Multiple police and fire units were on standby on South Court and at Hoover Park. Palo Alto Utilities employees responded as well to pinpoint gas lines in the area and Public Works crews provided sandbags used for the detonation.

Public access to South Court, a quiet, tree-lined street between North California Avenue and Oregon Avenue, was shut down for about three hours. The roadway reopened around 6 p.m.

Trevor Vaughan, a student who was returning from school in his family's car with his twin brother, Nathan, said they were greeted by police cars and the street was blocked off.

Mary Brodbeck, another neighbor on South Court, said residents couldn't bring their cars into the neighborhood.

Comments

Darrell
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 18, 2022 at 6:07 pm
Darrell , Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 18, 2022 at 6:07 pm

Now the bomb squad is in Hoover Park. Looks like they're going to detonate something there.


Judy
Registered user
South of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2022 at 6:08 pm
Judy, South of Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 18, 2022 at 6:08 pm

Scary. Any more info? Thanks.


Darrell
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 18, 2022 at 6:15 pm
Darrell , Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 18, 2022 at 6:15 pm

They just dug a hole, covered it with sandbags.


Judy
Registered user
South of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2022 at 6:30 pm
Judy, South of Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 18, 2022 at 6:30 pm

Thanks, Darrel. I live near Mitchell Park. Many children and adults at the park now. Hopefully we’re all safe.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2022 at 8:24 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 18, 2022 at 8:24 pm

Thank you to PAPD and the Bomb Squad for keeping us all safe, and for keeping us informed what is happening.

I know there is likely to be more news and more press releases about this, but I would like to have answers to some questions.

Who found these two military items? Was it a child playing, a house cleaner, a new owner?

How long were they likely there? Since the house was built? Since the present owners moved in?

Has there been a death in the house which would prompt this type of discovery? Was a previous owner in the military?

Any idea of how old these were? Were they old WW2, or Korean War, or Vietnam era? Any older seems unlikely, but it might be exciting to find the history.

Whereas I do appreciate that this type of incident is uncommon here, they do occur more often in Europe where housing tends to be much older than here and secrets can abound. Some secrets are forgotten secrets. Other secrets were definitely hidden and as the person who hid them aged and then died, the family found them. Other times, they are found by demolition and land clearance. They are often WW2 remnants.

Once again, so very pleased these were discovered and disposed of without injury or damage to property. But, a mystery in town deserves some sleuthing.




Miriam Palm
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2022 at 8:33 am
Miriam Palm, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2022 at 8:33 am

There was a similar incident in 2015 at a home in the 1900 block of Webster. That was a box of grenades!
Web Link


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2022 at 1:00 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 22, 2022 at 1:00 pm

Any updates on this event?


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