An active military-grade hand grenade was uncovered Saturday afternoon in the parking lot outside the Thurmont McDonald’s.
A bomb technician with the Office of the State Fire Marshal secured and removed the active grenade nearly two hours after first responders received the call, which prompted road closures, evacuations and a cordoned-off 50-foot perimeter around the site at 200 Frederick Road, just off of U.S. 15.
Bomb technician Dale Ednock said the grenade, found lodged about a foot under the pavement, was there for quite some time. The military grenade was likely a relic of the military base located in Thurmont several decades ago, Ednock said.
No injuries were reported, but Ednock confirmed through an X-Ray scan on scene that the grenade was still active. If it had gone off, anyone in the vicinity could have suffered severe injuries, or death, he said.
“If the guy operating the shovel machine had hit it, he would have been killed, no question,” Ednock said.
The grenade was found by a landscaping crew working on a set of shrubs at the entrance to the McDonald’s.
Police and fire crews responded to the call shortly before 1 p.m., according to Charlie Brown, assistant chief for Thurmont’s Guardian Hose Co.
Customers and employees inside the McDonald’s were evacuated, and roads in all directions were shut down with the help of officers from the State Highway Administration.
Butch West, Thurmont’s superintendent of public works, said he was eating lunch at the Roy Rogers across the street when he saw the landscaping crew call in the suspected grenade, watching as the crowd of close to 50 people at McDonald’s were evacuated.
Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird arrived shortly after.
“This sort of thing has never happened before here in Thurmont that I can remember,” he said.
Kinnaird said he initially wondered if the grenade was real, or a toy. But the two dozen emergency personnel — including those from the fire company, Thurmont Police, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and Thurmont Community Ambulance Service — were taking all necessary precautions.
“If it’s the real thing, I want to make sure everything is set up in accordance with safety,” Brown said. “If it’s a toy, I’m not taking any chances.”
A 50-foot, taped-off perimeter was set up in case of an explosion, with an additional 600-foot barricade in all directions, the necessary distance to ensure safety from flying shrapnel, Brown said.
Customers at nearby stores and restaurants were asked to remain inside until the grenade was evaluated and cleared by the bomb technician.
After pulling the grenade from the ground around 3 p.m., Ednock gave a thumbs up, signaling the coast was clear to re-open the roads and let people leave the nearby stores.
Edncok said he’d secured the safety and would take it back to the state fire marshal’s office, where it would be handed over to the military for disposal.
Eddie Ruch, deputy fire marshal for Frederick County Fire and Rescue Services, said crews would survey the site with metal detectors later in the week to ensure no shrapnel or other grenades remained.