Unattended Explosives Found at Camp Pendleton Triggered Evacuation, Marine Corps Says

by Braxton Taylor

Packaged military explosives were found unattended in an office building at Camp Pendleton, California, on Wednesday, triggering a temporary evacuation of the area. No one was hurt, the Marine Corps told Military.com on Friday.

The material — which was not specifically identified by the service — was removed by explosive ordnance experts after the discovery. EOD officials disposed of the explosives, and the office building was deemed safe for occupancy afterward.

The discovery of the explosives occurred during the routine installation of information technology equipment in the building. An investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, or NCIS, was initiated and remains ongoing.

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“The safety of our staff and students is a top priority,” Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Joshua Pena told Military.com. “The command is in full cooperation with NCIS and is reviewing current processes and procedures to ensure future incidents like this do not occur.”

It is unclear how the explosives ended up in the building or why they were unattended. Ordnance is typically kept under close observation and in secure areas where it can be monitored.

In 2021, The Associated Press reported that thousands of firearms, including some explosives, were unaccounted for by the military. Some of those firearms were used in crimes.

Two of the explosives noted in the AP report were armor-piercing grenades and C4 plastic explosives.

The C4 reported by the AP, more than a dozen pounds of it, was stolen by an unidentified Marine Corps demolitions noncommissioned officer who feared an impending civil war in the U.S.

Other explosives reported by the AP ended up in the hands of high school students. The same year as the AP report, the Defense Department initiated reforms on how it would keep track of its weapons and ordnance.

There was no indication from the Corps that the explosives found at Camp Pendleton on Wednesday were involved in any violent criminal activity. It is also unclear when the explosives found in the office building were left there.

No additional information about the discovery was available from the Marine Corps on Friday, Pena said.

Camp Pendleton is home to the School of Infantry-West, one of the Marine Corps’ two entry-level infantry schools, which has had a tumultuous and tragic summer.

The senior enlisted leader of the school, Sgt. Maj. Steven Burkett, known as “Sergeant Major Kettlebell,” was fired in July for “loss of trust and confidence.”

Last month, a student at the school was killed during nighttime live-fire training. As of August, that investigation remains ongoing.

— Drew F. Lawrence can be reached at drew.lawrence@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @df_lawrence.

Related: Marine Corps Identifies Lance Corporal Killed During Night Training in California

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