Law enforcement officials detonated what they believed was an explosive device found in bushes near Exertec Fitness Center in downtown Napa Wednesday. No one was hurt in the blast.
At about 11 a.m., city workers trimming the bushes in a planter that lines the fitness center’s Clay Street parking lot spotted what appeared to be an old military-style grenade, police said.
Police told people to stay in the fitness center and several other surrounding buildings, said Napa Police Lt. Brian McGovern. A few buildings were evacuated.
Officials closed sections of Seminary, Clay and Franklin streets and other nearby roads for about three hours.
A deputy from the Napa County Sheriff Office’s Bomb Squad put on an 80-pound protective suit and entered the area where officials had set up sand bags in the middle of Clay Street.
Afterwards, the deputy, who declined to give his name, described the suit as “very claustrophobic.”
“You tend to start forgetting what you’re doing,” he said.
The deputy attempted to X-ray the suspected grenade, but he was unable to do so because of its position, he said.
Instead, he attached a rope to the device, then stood back and dragged it across the street into the sandbags.
This is an “old school” approach, he said, but the squad was unable to use a robot because it was down for maintenance, he said.
Using the ropes, he said, was “a way to move it without touching it,” he said.
He then packed other explosives and sandbags around the device and left the area.
From about a block away, other officers detonated the grenade at 12:47 p.m. The explosion blew sand 25 to 30 feet in the air.
After waiting 15 minutes, the deputy returned to ensure nothing explosive remained.
Bomb Squad members aren’t sure the grenade had anything explosive in it, but officials must treat it as if it does, the deputy said.
“If it looks like a bomb, it’s a bomb,” he said.
It was hard to tell how long the grenade had been there or how it got there, but the deputy described it as rusty.
People were released from where they were advised to stay in at about 1:10 p.m., and all streets were open again at about 2 p.m.