Just after midnight, approximately nine hours after a potentially explosive military ordnance was discovered in the 1600 block of Copenhagen Drive in Solvang — prompting the evacuation of dozens of nearby homes and businesses in the downtown area — bomb squads rendered the device safe and lifted the evacuation order.
More than 1,000 reverse 9-1-1 calls were issued to houses, hotels, and shops within a 1,500-foot radius of where the ordnance was found, and the American Red Cross established a shelter at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall for those who were evacuated.
Sheriff’s officials, who were assisted by Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team during the incident, have declined to comment further, and say the discovery remains under investigation.
[UPDATE, 2:00 p.m.]: Santa Barbara Sheriff’s officials have released additional details about the Wednesday afternoon discovery of a large military ammunition shell in downtown Solvang. The find led to the evacuation of nearby homes, stores, and hotels as bomb squads investigated the potentially explosive ordnance.
According the Sheriff’s spokesperson Kelly Hoover, the 105mm shell — about four inches in diameter and 18 inches long — was found among trash in an enclosed area of an alleyway behind several businesses. “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,” Hoover said.
Once all the necessary evacuations had taken place — which were completed at around 11:20 p.m. and included 500 to 700 people, who sheltered at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall — bomb squads from the Sheriff’s Office and nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base retrieved the device and destroyed it with a controlled detonation.
“Right now, it’s unknown where the military ordnance came from,” Hoover said. “Even though they are not meant for public use, they can be purchased online. The Sheriff’s Office wants to remind community members to be cautious when purchasing and storing military ordnances. Over time they have the ability to become unstable and dangerous.”