A Gold Hill woman found a World War II-style mortar shell in a shed on her property. [JCSO [photo]

WWII mortar shell brings bomb squad to Gold Hill

A World War II-era bombshell found inside a shed caused a Gold Hill neighborhood to be cordoned off and drew explosives experts from across the state.

The live mortar shell found in a woman's shed in the 400 block of Chavner Street was safely removed Thursday with the help of Oregon State Police and the U.S. military, according to Jackson County Sheriff's Sgt. Julie Denney.

The woman who found the mortar, who was not named by sheriff's officials, moved it to her yard before she called the sheriff's office about noon Thursday. She had no prior knowledge of the bomb, though she estimated it had been inside her shed for at least as long as she'd owned the property — more than three decades.

On scene, sheriff's deputies blocked off the area, notified neighbors and contacted OSP's explosives unit. Because the shell was military in origin, OSP contacted the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit based in the Portland area.

The neighborhood was taped-off for about six hours, with deputies clearing the scene at 6:23 p.m., according to Denney. The military bomb squad had to travel from the Portland area, but was "realistically pretty efficient" on scene, she said.

"They arrived, put it in a box and left," Denney said, adding that the mortar was detonated in a safe location in Josephine County.

Denney said deputies receive several calls a year about found military souvenirs, often from family members of people who served who come across forgotten memorabilia tucked away in storage. Denney said it's more typical that such a shell would be inert — the round found in Gold Hill turned out to be live — but a case such as Thursday's shows that calling police is the smart move.

"Every once in a while it is a live round," Denney said. 

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

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