A Kawaihau Estates neighborhood was evacuated for almost six hours Monday after a man found a mine in a vacant house on Ioana Street in Kapa’a.
Army personnel dispatched from Schofield Barracks in Central O’ahu determined the anti-personnel mine was a “dummy,” meaning there was no explosive material in it.
The Kaua’i fire and police departments were put on alert during the evacuation.
A report from Kaua’i county officials said the device looked like a family-size soup can with prongs coming out of the top with definite military markings on it, including a serial number.
“He did the right thing and called KPD,” said Beth Tokioka, County of Kaua’i public information officer.
The man finding the device called the police after carrying the dummy mine outside to the front of the garage.
The Kaua’i Police Department dispatched officers to the scene at about 9:40 a.m. Kaua’i Fire Department firefighters evacuated about 12 homes within a range of 100 yards and police officers blocked off both end of the street with their patrol cars, according to police and fire reports.
At about 2:15 p.m., the Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team’s helicopter landed at Lihue Airport, where they were escorted to the Kapa’a neighborhood. The pilot wasn’t familiar with the Kapa’a area and didn’t land at Kapahi Park for that reason, Kaden said.
By 3 p.m. neighborhood residents were allowed to come back into their homes, though most of the homes were empty because their occupants were at work or school.
If the anti-personnel mine did explode, it wouldn’t have destroyed a large area, but pieces of shrapnel would have been launched from it, Kaden said. The incident was not related to terrorist activities.
“I’m just glad it happened that it happened in the middle of the workweek when hardly anyone was home, and the people who were evacuated were pretty understanding,” Kaden said.
The Kaua’i Fire Department doesn’t have a bomb squad and are required to call the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team at Schofield Barracks, Kaden said.
People who find World War II-vintage ordinances or unexploded shells should call the Kaua’i Police Department for assistance.
Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 245-3681 (ext. 252).