EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 17, 2012

Anti-tank shell sparks evacuation in Methuen

METHUEN — An inert mortar prompted a brief scare for people cleaning out a relative’s house yesterday.

At around 6:45 a.m., a 911 call came in from people at 36 Lincoln St. that they had found some kind of munition when they were cleaning out the basement.

Police got a description of the item, including some kind of serial number. They looked up the number on the Internet and determined that it was actually an anti-tank round.

Police and fire officials rushed to the house, which was evacuated, and called in the State Police bomb squad.

According to bomb squad spokesman Jennifer Mieth, it turns out the item was an inert mortar practice round.

“We get these all the time,” she said. “An elderly relative or family member dies, and when members of the family go in to clean out the possessions, they find what looks like was an old mortar round.”

She said that usually, the items are inert, but that every once in a while they are live.

She noted that veterans in the past would come home with trinkets from the war.

“The most common thing is hand-grenades,” she said. “If you find these old, wartime souvenirs, assume they are live, don’t touch them, and call the authorities. We are happy that’s what they did here.”

“They are almost always inert,” she said, “but you can’t assume that.”

She said the mortar round was removed by the bomb squad and will be disposed of at a later time.

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