Chicago Customs and Border Protection officers last week discovered a live military incendiary device dated to be from the Vietnam era in a Japan-bound package at O'Hare International Airport's mail facility.
According to officials, the package, which had originated in Missouri after being purchased at an estate sale and sold online, was discovered Thursday. It was shortly thereafter identified as a phosphorous-based M49A1 trip flare used as an early warning signaling device used during the Vietnam War to warn of infiltrating troops. When activated, the package can reach a temperature of nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The device was valued at $55.
The package was seized, deactivated and safely destroyed.
Brian Bell, a CBP spokesman, told Fox Chicago that the device might have been activated if the package's pin was pulled or if it was shaken while being transported on a plane. Bell noted in a statement that the result could have been "catastrophic."
"If you can imagine something capable putting off that much heat igniting in the belly of a plane, it is not a good thing," Bell added.
Though the incident remains under investigation, officials do not currently believe any harm was intended by the individuals involved in the package's mailing. It is not being investigated as an act of terrorism.