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Officials Remove 300 Bombs After Accident

May 15, 1986

ORANGE PARK, Fla. (AP) _ About 300 World War II practice bombs have been removed from fields and lots since one blew up last week in the hands of an 11-year-old girl who had been selling them as door stops, officials say.

Misty Cordell, of Middleburg, was burned around her eyes, hands and arms when one of the three-pound, foot-long bombs exploded Saturday as she tried to clean it.

″I was afraid to die. I prayed a lot and kept my eyes closed,″ she said after the accident. The girl was treated and released at a local hospital.

Since the explosion, Clay County residents have been asking public safety officials to pick up practice bombs, which are among thousands dropped by Navy pilots when the area was a bombing range from 1942 to 1962.

Hundreds have been unearthed by developers’ bulldozers in recent years, area residents say.

Most of the practice bombs are harmless, county Public Safety Director Jim Corbin said Wednesday. He said the devices would be turned over to the Navy.

The practice bombs contained a black-powder charge. In most cases, the powder exploded in a bright flash when the bomb was dropped, so pilots or observers could tell where they hit. The bombs that didn’t explode are considered dangerous.

Nick Young, a Navy spokesman, said the bombs contained powder equal to the charge in a shotgun shell.

In nearby Jacksonville, bomb squad detectives who recovered 250 of the devices in 1985 said they shouldn’t be kept as souvenirs because they still could explode.

″A lot of Navy people get these for souvenirs and leave them behind when they leave town. They just decide they don’t want to move a 25-pound bomb,″ said Det. Ed DeFoor.

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