HOMES and a school were evacuated after the Army’s bomb squad was called in to inspect a device found at a suspected cannabis factory in Cleckheaton.
The drama unfolded after police had a tip-off at midday on Tuesday saying a house in Turnsteads Crescent was being burgled.
When the response team arrived, they found no signs of a break-in but did discover cannabis plants, a firearm and another offensive weapon.
They also discovered an ‘unknown device’ and called in the Army’s bomb squad from Catterick in North Yorkshire.
A 100 metre cordon was set up in Turnsteads Avenue and Turnsteads Crescent – just yards from Whitcliffe Mount School.
Sgt Mel Wattley from the Spen Valley NPT said: “I had discussions with the headteacher and senior staff and it was 20 minutes before the pupils were due to leave school for the day.
“We decided it was best to keep them on site rather than evacuate them straight away.
“The main issue would have been parents coming to pick up their children, which would have caused chaos.”
Meanwhile, officers went door-to-door, asking people to leave their houses until the device had been removed.
“Our major concern was the number of elderly people in the area, so we needed to take them somewhere safe and warm,” said Sgt Wattley.
“We asked Turnsteads Community Centre to open so there was tea and coffee for the residents, while my officers ferried them down there.”
Police have been praised for the way they handled the situation.
Lilian Scott, president of the Turnsteads Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said: “The police did a good job in getting people out of their homes by explaining very calmly what was happening.
“They did it in a peaceful manner and didn’t make it frightening because there are a lot of older people around here.”
Eric Brown, 81, said he had to leave his house for a couple of hours.
The device was eventually removed and it is still being examined.
The cordon was lifted at 4pm, when people returned to their homes.
l A 45-year-old man has been charged with producing Class B drugs and will appear at Dewsbury Magistrates Court later this month.