Updated 05/30/12 – 10:45 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — A sharp-eyed maintenance man spotted three live World War II-vintage hand grenades Wednesday in a Lakeview apartment.
Police at the scene said the discovery was made at about 2:40 p.m. in the basement at 906 W. Newport Av. Authorities evacuated that building and at least six neighboring residential buildings.
Several other local residents also said they were told to stay clear of that block while police were checking on the explosives.
WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports Chicago Police Bomb and Arson Unit technicians gingerly took the grenades out of the building more than three hours later, to safely dispose of them elsewhere.
The owner of the home, Ron Kita, told CBS 2′s Brad Edwards he believed the grenades were fake.
“I was surprised. To my knowledge, they weren’t real. My brother said he used to play with them as a child,” Kita said.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts Reports
Kita’s late father served in the Army.
“Who knows what older veterans have in their homes?” local resident Tina Delacruz said. “It’s a little unsettling because I live here and I’ve lived her for 3 years.”
Neighbor Christopher Galbraith said he saw the first units arrive shortly before 3 p.m. as he left his apartment, at 910 W. Newport, to pick up his children from school.
Galbraith said police allowed him to return home with the children, but ordered him to leave about 45 minutes later.
“Just to find grenades in this area is kind of scary anyways,” Galbraith said.
After so many years, the grenades were deemed to be unstable. Police summoned firefighters and paramedics as backup, but were able to remove the grenades for disposal elsewhere without incident shortly before 6 p.m.
The Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres were playing baseball two blocks away at Wrigley Field when the grenades were discovered. The discovery did not disrupt the game or nearby CTA ‘L’ traffic, but it created traffic jams from gapers exiting the ballpark and driving on Clark Street and on Sheffield Avenue.
It was the second consecutive day that fans leaving the ballpark faced delays. Tuesday, fire consumed a furniture store at 2455 N. Sheffield Av., forcing ‘L’ service to be halted for more than two hours and creating gridlock on nearby streets.