Land mine, fuse wash ashore, recovered by Patrick Air Force Base

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A World War II-era anti-tank land mine along with a fuse that washed ashore Friday were recovered by the Patrick Air Force Base and then destroyed, officials confirmed.

Ron Carothers, a retired Indian River County firefighter, found the rusty land mine about 5 p.m. Friday afternoon at a beach in Indian River County. The circular-shaped mine, which was 1 foot in diameter, was in an area near North Porpoise Lane, east of State Road A1A and south of South Beach Park.

“I knew it was a land mine when I saw it. It was evident,” Carothers said. “It exposed itself because of the (beach) erosion we’re starting to see.”

Carothers said he immediately called 911 and alerted them about the anti-tank mine, which is used to destroy tanks and armored fighting vehicles. Indian River County deputies then notified Patrick Air Force Base.

The base, located in Brevard County, is the closest explosive ordnance disposal in the two-county area.

Authorities also located a fuse to an anti-tank mine near Cavalla Road, Indian River County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Roger Dion said. The fuse is a smaller explosive that detonates a bigger explosive, Dion said.

Dion said the fuse was found a block north of where the mine washed ashore.

Base crews recovered both items, carefully transported them to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and destroyed them, officials said. It was unclear if the munitions were still active.

Since 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has conducted ongoing searches for bombs or ammunition left behind by the military decades ago. The searches cover areas from Vero Beach down to Jensen Beach, including North and South Hutchinson Islands.

The areas were known as the Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Training Base, which the Navy used during World War II. Carothers said there are probably more munitions still buried in the sand not far from his residence on Porpoise Point Lane.

“I’m not worried,” Carothers said. “I do believe they could still cause damage.”

This story will be updated. 

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