Bomb Squad Drama! Mother-In-Law Finds Hand Grenade In Bernal Back Yard

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There was plenty of drama on Lundys Lane last night after a hand grenade (!!!) was found at a Bernal Heights home. Police were called, area streets were closed off, and the Bomb Squad arrived in a big truck to defuse the situation.

Luckily, the Bernalwood Action News Team had an embedded correspondent on the scene to cover the story. Reporting live from her own back yard, Neighbor Alison tells us about the shocking discovery:

Here’s the scoop on what happened.

My mother-in-law was working in our back yard, digging out a patch of dirt. There was a pile of rocks that she had hit with a pitchfork, and one of them seemed different than the others, so she picked it up and noticed how heavy it was. Then she realized it was a grenade, and set it down very carefully.

She came inside and told me — I was with my 7-week-old.  I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that we immediately Googled “found grenade San Francisco” for a bit to see if this is common. I found a couple of stories from the last few years where people had found grenades, and they had called the police, so we decided that’s what we should do too.

It should have occurred to me that this would trigger the Bomb Squad showing up and we would need to evacuate, but it did not. About five officers arrived about 20 minutes later, and we had to grab a few things and leave, as did all the neighbors on our side of the street. Our neighbors across the street were told they had to “shelter in place,” which meant they were allowed to stay home as long as they were inside. So they invited us to come over, and poured some wine while we waited things out.

My husband was arriving home at the time, and the police had to escort him down the street to join us at the neighbor’s house. They actually asked him if it was his grenade.

Eventually the bomb squad truck arrived. After about 90 minutes, they gave us the all clear to return home. The verdict was that it was a World War II era grenade, and that it had been emptied out. Their guess is someone brought it home from the war as a souvenir.

It was an eventful evening! We’re home now eating It’s It.

Take note, folks: After an exciting evening of explosive ordinance disposal, real San Franciscans reach for It’s It.

PHOTOS: Top, vintage grenade discovered on Lundys Lane, by Neighbor Alison. Below, Bomb Squad on Lundys, courtesy of Vivian Redmond/48hills

14 thoughts on “Bomb Squad Drama! Mother-In-Law Finds Hand Grenade In Bernal Back Yard

  1. We had something similar happen several years ago. Suitcase dumped on sidewalk, taped up with duct tape, with wires hanging out. Bomb squad methodically set up perimeter, had everyone shelter in place, took statements, etc. Finally a non-descript guy approached the suitcase, flipped it opened to confirm was filled with trash and rags.

    The most memorable thing was how shabby the bomb disposal guy’s clothes were. After all, you wouldn’t want to get blown up in your good suit!

  2. I’ve heard there was a rumored SLA stash of explosive found on the hill, but I suppose this could also have been something left from the quarrying activity on the hill.

  3. No shoutout to the Eyewitness Bernal News Team who risked losing life and limb(s) to bring you up to the minute live tweets? Hmph ;-P

  4. Neighbor Allison’s account sounds rather glib and cavalier. While Allison was sipping wine across the street waiting things out it looks like a good portion of the block had to evacuate, and from what I’ve heard others were denied access to their homes until it was resolved. Real San Franciscans may reach for an Its It after the fact…Bernal folks tell their neighbors when they find a grenade in the yard because that’s what makes Bernal special – https://bernalwood.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/close-to-you-musings-on-the-essence-of-neighborliness/

  5. In defense of Allison, SFPD wasn’t exactly forthcoming with information for those of us in the surrounding area. I had to go outside to find out why the street was suddenly blocked by police cars. After about ten minutes, the officer said “you might want to go inside until this over” – no real panic – just a “hey the bomb squad needs to come check this out” – all the while chatting with another neighbor that didn’t want to hang out in someone else’s house (although we did finally convince her that it was getting cold and she then joined Allison/other kind neighbors in their “shelter in place” abode). In fact, this officer took my name and number down in her notepad and promised to call me as soon as the coast was clear. Well guess what? My phone never rang. It was my other neighbor (shoutout to Travis!) who texted me to say the police tape was being removed and the bomb squad had left. Those of us in the Lundys Lane area look out for each other and I consider many of them my friends. I wouldn’t trade my neighbors at all (okay except for that one guy who drives like a maniac and tries to run us all off the road, but there’s always an exception to the rule!)

    • There was a time when people gave their neighbors a quick heads up about things that might inconvenience them – “hey I’m having a party and I thought you should know”, “I’m cutting down a tree in my yard”, etc. Your defence of Allison really misses my original point – that our little corner of the City is a compact place where what happens to me on my property is likely to affect you in some way or another. Maybe in the 20 min between when she called SFPD and they showed up Allison knocked on a few doors or sent out a few text messages alerting those in the immediate area about what she’d found in her yard and that she’d called SFPD to deal with the situation. By her own telling of the story (and your defence) it doesn’t sound like it went down that way. Yes, Allison has a 7 week old infant, and yes she acknowledged that it didn’t occur to her that calling SFPD would bring out the bomb squad – those both seem like reasonable reason’s why she may not have done anything to alert those around her. But if you really look out for each other as you say you do, you wouldn’t leave it to SFPD to alert the neighbors – you’d let them know about something as dangerous as a grenade in your yard…even if its just a few people in the houses close by most likely to be impacted if the grenade was live. Which is the essence of my original point. It also seems like you’d find a way to tell the guy who drives like a maniac to dial it down a bit…but hey I’ve lived in Bernalwood for over 20 years and the people who were my neighbors when I moved here are definitely not my neighbors now. Maybe the maniac is a new arrival with important places to be down the peninsula and you just need to get out of his way lol.

      • “It also seems like you’d find a way to tell the guy who drives like a maniac to dial it down a bit…”
        You’re making a lot of assumptions about what I have or have not done in regards to this situation. Actually the guy that drives like a maniac has been here for 20+ years and has apparently been a jerk the entire time. Multiple attempts, by multiple neighbors, to tell him to calm down and stop driving like a jackass have yielded in nothing but him screaming at us and/or blocking the street with his car, forcing us to back down the street in an effort to not get run over. He literally will gun his car and honk his horn at anyone he believes to be in his way (including the UPS guy and the garbage truck). At some point you have to pick your battles because you can’t reason with crazy.

        I’m also not sure what else you wanted Allison to do. She called the police. They showed up and took over the situation, which included evacuating the houses immediately surrounding the scene. The SFPD blocked the street and would not let many people get to their homes. The SFPD was not particularly forthcoming with information about the potential crime scene they were handling. With that being said, what else was Allison supposed to do when the police ordered her to leave her house? Run up and down the street with her newborn like Paul Revere screaming that there’s a grenade in her yard? And I don’t know if she did or did not contact some of the immediate neighbors to give them a head’s up – she’ll have to confirm that for herself. Either way, barring having the entire neighborhood’s cell numbers programmed in her phone as a group that she could blast (pardon the pun) this information out to, I think she handled this as appropriately as possible.

        However, should the time come that I find a grenade in my little slice of Bernal (instead of the glass, toilet pieces, sparkplugs or giant rusty nails that I usually encounter when gardening), I’ll be sure to send out an alert on Bernalwood so everyone is aware ;-P

  6. Agree with Val about SFPD. Sounds like they were sending out mixed messages – I was hustled out of the house so fast i had no money, no phone, nohing but the clothes on my back and my keys. All the officer would tell me was “there’s an explosive device and you need to leave NOW” which sounded really dangerous and more like a bomb than a dead antique hand grenade. And when the neighbor across the street from my house came out to see what was going on he barked “you need to shelter in place” and she hurried back inside quickly.The officer told me I didn’t even have time to get in the car and drive off – just “go to the end of the block” as he pointed toward Virginia. Glad it worked out positively in the end (standing in the cold for an hour and a half beats getting blown up if it had been a real “explosive device”, and at least the dog got a really good walk!) but SFPD could have been much more forthcoming with info for those who were directly impacted.

    • Even though the hand grenade looked harmless because it was so rusty, the explosive inside often becomes very unstable over the years and can explode with even gentle handling.

      What people here seem to forget is that SF was THE major military port during World War II. Not only that, but the Japanese flew aircraft within a few miles of Ocean Beach! People who study this stuff are actually surprised that they didn’t actually bomb us at the time. They did send over hot-air candelabras loaded with explosives, which actually caused some fires. I didn’t know anything about this stuff until visiting the museum in Coos Bay. They have a couple of those devices on display.

      So, don’t ever be surprised to find unexploded ordnance in SF.

  7. Neighbor Alison chiming in here. Bernal Guy, I agree that if the grenade had been live, it would have made sense to go tell all our neighbors to get as far away as possible. I should have gotten myself far away from it, too, but it didn’t occur to me to leave until the police told us we had to. By that time they didn’t give us any time to be outside and tell others what was going on. I did go right away after calling the police to our next door neighbor who shares a border with our backyard to let her know what was happening. The reality is we were so in shock that it was there that it was hard to figure out how seriously to take it as a threat. When I called the police, they didn’t give me any instructions about leaving. They just told me they would send over an officer.

    If anything proves that Bernal neighborliness is still in effect, it’s that our neighbors took us in with our crying newborn and stressed dog and poured us wine while a bomb squad took over our house.

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