NEW HOPE, Ala. – Residents who were evacuated from a neighborhood in New Hope last night have been allowed to return to their homes. This, after police found a missile while responding to a fire. Investigators returned to the scene Tuesday and cleared out of the area just before 2 p.m.
The FBI now says the device was inactive, despite earlier reports from police that it was live.
“It was inert. It was not a live device,” said FBI spokesman Paul Daymond.
Daymond said it was not a military weapon, nor was it homemade. “It was manufactured by Northrop Grumman,” Daymond said. He didn’t have information on when it was manufactured. Daymond said the FBI is trying to track down who the missile belongs to.
New Hope Police Chief Steven Dick described the missile as three and a half feet long and eight inches in diameter. A team from Fort Campbell, Kentucky came and removed it, and took it back to their base.
Investigators are questioning the man who had the device behind his home on College Avenue. He has not been charged with a crime.
The man told police he found the missile in a nearby creek. One of the homeowners tells WHNT there’s no criminal activity happening at their house, and they just picked up something that they shouldn’t had.
Around 3 p.m. Monday, police and fire crews responded to an illegal burn call near the 400 block of College Avenue. While on scene, they stumbled upon the explosive device. The fire was put out quickly.
New Hope Police Chief Steven Dick says it was a scary situation for crews who found the explosive, once they learned what it was. He said the missile looked very similar to a rocket upon first glance. He asked people to avoid the area.
"We've got everybody far enough away that it will not be a danger to somebody but even in the process we don't need an explosion," he said, adding that safety is the highest priority.
Police kept a close eye on the scene overnight. Due to the wet weather, technicians from Fort Campbell, Kentucky and other agencies were delayed until morning.
"We were expecting a bad night anyway with maybe some trees and some wind. But we never did expect to find a missile laying out somewhere," said New Hope Mayor Butch Taylor.
They're hoping no branches or trees or lightning will affect the explosive overnight, and New Hope police will remain on the scene until their help from additional agencies arrives.
Authorities say there are no pending charges for the person who lives in the home where firefighters found the missile in the yard at this time. That person is cooperating and told police they found the missile in a creek somewhere, said Chief Dick.