JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - An Air Force crew from Joint Base Charleston removed potentially-active military ammunition that sparked an evacuation of nearby homes on James Island Saturday night.
Joint Base Charleston's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit was among several agencies that responded to a home in the 2100 block of Westrivers Road in the Riverland Terrace subdivision after a homeowner discovered the ammunition in a shed.
The James Island Fire Department and Charleston County Bomb Squad were also on the scene to determine what the device was and whether it posed a threat.
The ordnance was believed to date back to Civil War, according to Charleston County Sheriff's Lt. Rita Zelinsky.
The They set up a perimeter to keep people a safe distance away. Shortly before 8 p.m., neighboring homes were being evacuated as a precaution and people were moved behind other homes.
The EOD Unit was able to move the ammunition to their vehicle and transport it out of the neighborhood, sending an all-clear to neighbors who could then return to their homes. Neighbors said they were told the shell would be detonated at Joint Base Charleston.
The scene was cleared at approximately 8:50 p.m., Zelinsky said.
Mary Mason said she and friends were clearing out a garage that served as her late husband's shop. She said he was a collector.
"At some point or another, he collected an old mortar shell, which I thought was dead," she said. But at the urging of her friend, who insisted the shell could still be live, she contacted authorities, not expecting the response that unfolded.
The homeowner told deputies the shell had been given to her late husband approximately 15 years ago.
Mason said a member of the bomb squad said it was potentially live and could explode.
"He said he's seen people have these things in their family and not think that they were going to blow up and then blow up, so I'm glad that we did call," she said.
Deputies set up a perimeter to keep people a safe distance from the garage and awaited the arrival of the Air Force team.
After the Joint Base Charleston crew examined the shell, they expanded the perimeter.
Mason said she was told the military would take the shell and dispose of it.