Bomb squad disposes of mortar

INDEPENDENCE — An Independence family called police Sunday when they found what appeared to be an explosive in a family member’s residence, Sgt. Tino Banuelos said.

“They had no idea exactly what it was,” Banuelos said. “They were concerned enough to give us a call just to be sure. It started to look like a grenade to them.”

Banuelos said he took many photos of the device and sent them to the Salem Bomb Squad, who responded.

The Oregon National Guard Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit also responded out of Portland.

What looked like a pineapple-style grenade turned out to be a World War II Japanese type 89 high explosive mortar, Banuelos said.

“It’s 2-and-a-half inches in diameter, and about five-and-a-half inches tall, nothing extraordinary about it,” Banuelos said. “The concern was if it was a live mortar, the acid inside could, over time, eat through, and the chemicals, rather than becoming less explosive, crystalize and become more explosive.”

Initial scans showed the main charge had been removed from the mortar, but it was uncertain whether or not the fuse was intact, Banuelos said.

The mortar was taken by the explosive ordnance disposal unit to be disposed of, Banuelos said.

“We would much rather spend the hours investigating the device than an injury or death call because of something like this,” he said. “We appreciate how quickly the EOD unit responded to make sure it was done in the safest manner possible.”

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