Live grenade found at Glendale Community College Garfield campus

SOUTH GLENDALE — Los Angeles County Sheriff's bomb investigators on Thursday safely detonated a live Vietnam-era grenade that was unearthed by construction crews at a Garfield Avenue satellite campus for Glendale Community College.

The discovery prompted Glendale police to evacuate the entire campus and several nearby residential buildings before bomb investigators placed the grenade in a hole in the ground, covered it with several 25- to 35-pound sandbags and detonated it.

As construction workers and residents watched from afar, the detonation set off an ear-shattering noise and a small cloud of dirt.

"It was a good thing we blew it up here," Glendale Police Lt. Bruce Fox said.

Transporting the live grenade to another location would have been too risky, he added.

A construction worker in a tractor unearthed the grenade about 12:15 p.m. while moving dirt during a grading project, said Jerry Olazabal, one of the worksite foremen.

After it was discovered, crew superintendent Jerry Valent said he and others picked up the grenade for closer examination, going so far as washing off corrosion and snapping photographs.

Butch Pullen said he tried scratching off some of the dirt with a knife "to see I could see a name or something on it."

Valent eventually took the grenade to a Glendale Community College police officer, who told them to return the bomb where it was found before calling for help.

"I didn't want it to hurt the new building we built," Valent said, referring to ongoing construction at the campus.

About 450 students and about 50 instructors and other staff were evacuated and told not to return until at least 3:30 p.m. while authorities investigated the device.

A daycare center on the campus was also evacuated and the children were sent home with their parents, said Mary Mirch, vice-president of instructional services for the college.

Students were unable to access vehicles parked on the campus until the evacuation order was lifted.

Cindy Barquero and her classmates took refuge under a tree while police surrounded the area.

"This is really serious and we have missed all three of our classes," she said.

Nearby residential buildings were also evacuated, including those on South Chevy Chase, East Garfield and East Acacia avenues.

John Muir Elementary School, which was being dismissed for the day, was also placed under lockdown moments before the explosion.

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