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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

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Bomb squad called in as device found in West Cumbria auction rooms

An unidentified object in a box full of auction lots sparked a bomb scare in Cockermouth.

Staff at Mitchells Auction House, on Station Road, were unpacking boxes from a house clearance in Whitehaven yesterday at about 9.15am, when they noticed the item, which looked like a bomb.

They called the police, who advised them to evacuate the building and surrounding area.

Officers swooped on the town and cordoned off Station Road and Lorton Street, while they waited for an army bomb squad from Catterick to arrive.

Traffic was diverted and the army arrived at about 10.30am.

They identified the item as a non-explosive training mortar and took it away.

Mark Wise, Mitchells co-director said: “We were involved in clearing the estate of a deceased person in Whitehaven. When the item was found we moved it to a secure storage area because it was a potential hazard.

“We had to help evacuate the building and neighbouring businesses as we had to be around 165ft away from the building in case the bomb was live and went off.

“We were relieved to find out the bomb was not hazardous and that everything went smoothly and quickly. We were open for business again by noon.

“It is the first time we have ever had to evacuate the building and the first time we found something that was potentially that dangerous.”

Valerie Hall, 76, of Strawberry How Road, was shopping in the town’s Sainsbury’s store when the auctioneers was evacuated.

“It is quite a shock for a quiet town like Cockermouth. There was a bit of confusion when everyone was evacuated and lots of activity.”

Michael Dalton, 58, of Lorton Road, said: “I heard police vehicles and a lot of activity while I was in town and was amazed by it all.”

Sarah Langdon, of Castlegate Drive, added: “It was quite exciting but also slightly worrying that we didn’t know what was going on until the bomb disposal team turned up.”

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