POLICE and a bomb disposal squad raced to an empty house in Hartlepool after the discovery of an old landmine.
Residents in Sheriff Street, Hartlepool, were put on alert after an item which was believed to be an explosive device was found by the landlord of the property.
Part of the area was cordoned off and residents in the street and nearby properties were advised by police to stay indoors as a precaution.
Army explosive experts from Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, tended to the device and after x-raying it declared it was not live and did not pose a risk.
But an Army spokesperson told the Mail that if such a device contained live explosive then the radius of the blast would have spread as far as 1,200ft.
Officers in the street confirmed that the device was a US anti-tank mine called HEM6.
But it is not known how it came to be inside the house.
Police arrived at the scene just before 10am yesterday and the street remained closed until 12.15pm.
The two adjoining properties were evacuated and residents in the remaining properties inside the cordon were asked to remain indoors.
Nearby Lynnfield Primary School was also alerted, but no action needed to be taken.
One man who lives in the street, who did not want to be named, said: “I had no idea what was happening.
“One minute I was sat in my living room and the next minute a load of police vans are flying past the house.
“It’s quite scary really to think something like that could have been in the house for years.
“We just need to be thankful it wasn’t live.
“All of the residents have been looking out to see what was going on.”
An Army spokesman said: “The Royal Logistic Corps bomb disposal squad received a call after the landlord of the property had found the item.
“The landlord did the right thing in calling the police immediately, who in turn got in touch with the Bomb Disposal Squad.
“That is exactly what we would advise people to do in a situation such as this one.”
A spokesperson for Cleveland Police said: “Sheriff Street was closed to vehicle access and at 11.45am explosives experts confirmed that the device posed no threat to the public.
“Officers dealt with the situation swiftly and they would like to thank local people for their co-operation and assistance in this matter.”