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'Extremely unstable' WWI-era explosives found on Cape Cod detonated by Navy, state police bomb squad

By JACKSON COTE | MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass. | Published: September 15, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (Tribune News Service) — A nearly explosive situation on Cape Cod over the weekend was quelled by members of the U.S. military and the Massachusetts State Police.

The U.S. Navy and the state police bomb squad detonated several World War I-era explosives on Saturday after they were found on a Wellfleet resident’s property, according to a statement from the town’s fire department.

Wellfleet firefighters responded shortly before 3:40 p.m. to a report of the newly discovered unexploded ordnance, the department said.

WBZ reported that the resident who found the explosives was digging on his property as part of a driveway expansion project.

The ordnance posed an “immediate hazard" and was "subject to an eminent danger,” the fire department’s post said.

Local and state police then responded to the scene, and authorities determined the explosives dated back to World War I and were “extremely unstable,” according to the post.

U.S. Navy explosive technicians were later flown to the Cape Cod town via helicopter to also help out with the situation, according to officials.

The state police bomb squad identified the ordnance as four 12\u2033-14\u2033 armor piercing anti-tank grenades and shells, two 9\u2033 anti-tank type grenades and shells and three smaller target shooting-type explosives, WBZ reported.

Personnel from the Wellfleet Department of Public Works were called to transport several shells and ammunition pieces to a town sandpit, according to authorities.

The ordnance was then detonated under the direction of the Navy explosive experts and the state police bomb squad, the Wellfleet Fire Department said in its statement.

“It was imperative and clearly in the best interest of public safety and the safety of the community to immediately destroy the ordnance effectively and as close to on site as possible,” Wellfleet Fire Chief Rich Pauley said in the statement.

No injuries or property damages were reported.

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