Douglas County Sheriff Harvey Gjesdal asked residents on Aviation Drive in Fancher Heights to evacuate or stay inside their homes Saturday after a homeowner there working in their yard found an old mortar shell.
A U.S. Army explosives team was called to the scene by Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies, who responded at 5:24 p.m., after the resident found the device. The explosive ordnance disposal unit from Yakima later determined that the mortar was solid metal, and had been used for practice
The home is near the old Fancher Field, which was once used for military operations. Sheriff Gjesdal said he had heard that both the Army and Navy used the area as a training field during World War II.
The airfield is named after Major John T. Fancher, an aviation officer in the National Guard who was killed there on April 29, 1928 when an unexploded bomb he had dropped went off in his hand during an Apple Blossom Festival demonstration.
Gjesdal said residents should be aware that dynamite and mortars are occasionally discovered in yards and old storage areas. Anyone coming across something that looks like an explosive device is asked to get a safe distance away from it and call RiverCom dispatch so it can be evaluated by experts.