The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department has determined that an 18-inch ammunition shell was the military ordnance found Wednesday afternoon in a Solvang alleyway but that it’s still unknown where it came from, spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said Thursday.
After a citizen called 9-1-1 around 3:30 p.m., deputies responded to the 1600 block of Copenhagen Drive and found a 105-millimeter shell that looked old, like it had already been fired, Hoover said.
It was found lying among some trash in an enclosed area of an alleyway behind businesses, Hoover said.
Since the device's fusing system was still in place, the Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad and Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team determined the device was potentially unstable and conducted a mass evacuation of 500 to 700 people from several hotels, homes and residences within a 1,500-foot radius of the alleyway.
It took hours since the area is in the highly-populated downtown area of Solvang, and the American Red Cross set up a temporary shelter at the Veterans Memorial Hall.
By 11:20 p.m., the bomb squad and EOD team were able to retrieve the device, transport it to a remote location and destroy it with a controlled detonation.
It’s still unknown where the military ordnance came from, Hoover said, because they can be purchased online even though they are not meant for public use.
These devices can become unstable and dangerous over time, and anyone who wants to safely dispose of one can contact the Sheriff’s Department at 805.681.4100.