Discovery of Military Ordnance Prompts Evacuation in Solvang

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A mandatory evacuation was lifted very early Thursday for hundreds of homes and businesses in Solvang after authorities investigated a potentially explosive military ordnance and deemed the area safe.


This ammunition shell was destroyed after its discovery prompted an evacuation of homes and businesses in Solvang on April 16, 2014. (Credit: Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office)

Hundreds were allowed to return home after mandatory evacuations in Solvang on Wednesday afternoon and evening.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Bomb Squad and Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal began investigating the military ordnance around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in Solvang’s business district, in the 1600 block of Copenhagen Drive (map), according to a Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management press release.

The ordnance was among trash in “an enclosed area of an alleyway behind several businesses,” the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office stated in a news release Thursday.

It was a 105 mm ammunition shell about 4 inches in diameter and 18 inches long, “with the fusing system still intact,” the Sheriff’s Office stated.

“The ordnance appeared to be old and had been fired at some point, but because the fusing system was still in place, the device was considered potentially unstable and able to cause widespread damage if it exploded,” the release stated.

About 500 to 700 homes, businesses, and hotels were told to vacate the area through Reverse 911 calls and in-person visits from Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team members.

Reverse 911 calls were sent to about 400 people around 5:20 p.m. and then to about 1,000 phone numbers in a 1,500-foot radius of the military ordinance around 8 p.m., according to the release.

The American Red Cross set up a location for those who were evacuated.

The Sheriff’s Bomb Squad and Vandenberg’s EOD team removed the military ordnance just after midnight and rendered it safe, according to the news release. The device was taken to a remote location and destroyed by “controlled detonation.”

It was not known where the device came from. The Sheriff’s Office noted that “even though they are not meant for public use,” such devices can be bought online.

The incident was under investigation by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

KTLA’s Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.

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