Officials removed an active military-grade hand grenade from a McDonald’s parking lot in Thurmont, Maryland, Saturday.
Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire stated that a landscaping crew was tearing up the ground outside the McDonald’s, when one worker found a metallic object lodged 10 to 15 inches into the ground.
After emergency responders received the call around 1 p.m. and arrived at the restaurant, officials closed nearby streets, evacuated bystanders, and set a 50-foot taped-off perimeter, including a 600-foot barricade to protect from shrapnel in case of an explosion, according to the Frederick News-Post.
“If the guy operating the shovel machine had hit it, he would have been killed, no question,” said bomb technician Dale Ednock, who confirmed through an X-Ray scan that the grenade was still active.
The grenade was most likely a part of Thurmont’s old military facility, and officials believe it had been there since World War II or Vietnam, according to WUSA 9.
“This sort of thing has never happened before here in Thurmont that I can remember,” said the town’s mayor, John Kinnaird, who arrived shortly after the restaurant was evacuated, reports the Frederick News-Post.
It could have been a toy, Kinnaird said, although emergency responders treated it like the real deal.
“If it’s the real thing, I want to make sure everything is set up in accordance with safety,” said Thurmont’s Guardian Hose Co.’s assistant chief, Charlie Brown. “If it’s a toy, I’m not taking any chances.”
Nearly two hours after the initial call, Ednock pulled the grenade from the ground at about 3 p.m. and gave the thumbs up to signal that Thurmont was out of harm’s way.
Ednock said that the grenade was secure, and he would take it to the state fire marshal’s office to hand it over to the military, who would dispose of the dangerous relic.
Later in the week, crews will examine the area with metal detectors, in case there are any other grenades or shrapnel nearby, according to Eddie Ruch, the deputy fire marshal for Frederick County Fire and Rescue Services.