It's finally quiet in the area of Rockbridge Drive SE in Leesburg this evening, following a long day for local police and fire-rescue personnel who were tasked with evaluating and moving anti-tank missiles that were discovered hidden in a garden shed.
During an 11 p.m. Channel 9 news briefing, Loudoun County Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief James Williams said authorities were alerted to the existence of the missiles at around 1:30 p.m. June 29. A homeowner cleaning out her garden shed found the missiles and contacted the authorities. Members of the Leesburg Police and Loudoun County Bomb Squad arrived on scene, assessed the situation and quickly coordinated to establish a safety perimeter.
Around 3-4 p.m., representatives from the U.S. Army were called to the 500 block of Rockbridge Drive SE, and the devices were "determined to be military ordnance—anti-tank devices probably from the Desert Storm era," Williams said.
Umstattd indicated the initial perimeter was widened to about 400 yards and approximately 100 residents were evacuated from their homes. In all such discoveries, ordnance is assumed to be live, and accordingly surrounding structures are evacuated for safety.
"[Town officials] offered to host [the evacuated residents] at Leesburg Police headquarters, but a lot of folks stayed with friends and family members," Umstattd said.
"We’re relieved that the coordination between the county’s fire-rescue and emergency management and our town police was so good."
At this point, neither the homeowner who discovered the missiles nor the authorities who dealt with them know how they came to be hidden in the garden shed. "Nobody knoews how they got there," Umstattd said.
"It's possible they had been in that shed in someone's backyard for years and years. [The homeowner] had never taken a look in the shed until she was about to go on vacation and decided to do some cleaning, and this is what came up."
As of 11 p.m. Saturday night, the missile fuses had been safely deactivated and U.S. Army personnel had removed the body of the missiles from the area. Normal traffic in the area has resumed and no injuries were reported.