On May 14 at approximately 5:00 p.m., a Fernie man working in his backyard on the 1200th block of 2nd Avenue, dug up what appeared to be a world war-era hand grenade.
The man immediately informed the RCMP, who upon arriving, confirmed it appeared to be a vintage explosive. The RCMP cordoned off the area, evacuated the house and contacted the Canadian Armed Forces Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU).
Since the explosive resembled military ordnance and not an improvised explosive device (IED), the Canadian Armed Forces were called in from Victoria to disassemble the explosive, deem it safe and transport it back to the coast.
“Once we verify that this is more-than-likely a military ordnance, we have to get a hold of the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Elk Valley RCMP Staff Sergeant, Will Thien.
After looking at the picture, the Army confirmed that it resembled a ‘Mills Bomb’, a common hand grenade named after the Mills Munition Factory in Birmingham, England which started producing these weapons for the Canadian Army in 1915. They are recognized by their pineapple shape. Contrary to popular belief the grooves were not used to aid in fragmentation but rather, in grip. However, the grenade was known to launch lethal fragments up to 100 yards upon detonation. This grenade was produced up until the 1980’s.
The EDU arrived in the evening of the next day. Upon further investigation they found the core of the detonator to be missing. Without a detonator, the grenade was deemed non-lethal. However, with the amount of dirt and corrosion around the grenade, the RCMP had no way of knowing this. While waiting for the army to arrive, a brick wall was erected around the grenade and kevlar was placed around the structure to prevent any injuries in case of an accidental explosion.
According to the EDU, the Armed Forces run into instances like this 150-160 times per year in Canada. In Sgt. Thien’s knowledge, this is the first time a grenade has been found in Fernie.
The Elk Valley RCMP would like to remind the public to call the RCMP if an object in question is found.