Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lethbridge Police Station Evacuated over Pre-WW1 Military Ordinance Found

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lethbridge Police Station Evacuated over Pre-WW1 Military Ordinance Found

Article excerpt

Pre-WW1 bomb brought to police station

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LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - A well-meaning attempt to turn in an old military weapon exploded into turmoil Tuesday afternoon, forcing an evacuation of police headquarters and tying up traffic in downtown Lethbridge for the better part of three hours.

The drama unfolded just before noon Tuesday when a man came into the Lethbridge regional police station carrying what officials later determined was a First World War-era anti-tank explosive device.

The man waited at the front counter for a while, according to police, but when he saw that staff members were all busy, he simply put the small, rusted antique on the counter and left.

When police realized that the dropped-off device was a potentially live explosive with a detonator attached, they evacuated the building.

Nearly 100 police officers and civilian staff rushed outside and across the street, leaving their lunches on their desks as the fire department arrived for backup.

Police directed traffic away from the police station, causing a backlog of idling cars through the downtown until the explosive was removed and staff were allowed back inside.

The local explosive disposal unit sent in a bomb robot to fetch the device and place it in the back of a sandbag-loaded City of Lethbridge pickup truck.

It was then driven to a gravel pit, prompting officials to close Highway 3 to all traffic while the large vehicle made its way down the road.

Explosives experts from Canadian Forces Base Suffield were called in and confirmed upon their arrival at the gravel pit that the device was indeed live. They then blew it up.

Canadian Forces personnel have more experience dealing with military explosives than Lethbridge police, said Insp. Jeff Cove.

"You really want to make sure that you have the right people with the right level of expertise, and in Lethbridge we just don't have the call for our guys to go and take those things apart," he said.

"The difficulty is it was so old and rusted and they couldn't tell from the threads on the device if it had been unscrewed and the explosives removed from it," Cove added. …

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