Artillery shells found in steel load; Mesa plant evacuated

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

MESA, Ariz. -- A rebar manufacturing plant in a rural area of southeast Mesa was evacuated Wednesday morning after several artillery shells were found in a shipment of steel.

A Mesa Fire Department spokesman said there could be more than 100 rounds but only one appeared to be live, a Mesa Fire Department spokesman said.

The materials have been confirmed as military-grade ammunition.

The Mesa Police Department bomb squad was investigating and Luke Air Force Base personnel were responding to the scene, as per protocol.

Mesa police and fire officials evacuated CMC Steel at Germann and Meridian roads in a rural area after the rounds were found in an early morning delivery of scrap steel, a Mesa Fire Department spokesman said.

"Once crews got out there, we had to lean towards the worst-case scenario and assume that we have devices that could explode," said Forrest Smith, deputy chief of Mesa Fire and Medical.

Some employees described the materials as "softball-sized bombs," Smith said.

It is not clear where the materials originated and investigators are working to backtrack the pickup route.

Smith said CMC takes old steel products and melts them down to create steel rebar.

There are no nearby residential areas, Smith said.

No injuries were reported.