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The bomber wreckage will stay on a trailer near Watson Lake until a dispute is worked out between the couple and Yukon heritage officials. ((Submitted by Cpl. Tom Howell))

Second World War artifacts, including a pile of vintage 500-pound bombs and the nose section of an American B-26 bomber, have surfaced in Watson Lake, causing a small turf war between the Yukon government and the Alberta couple that salvaged the plane wreckage.

The couple recovered a section of the B-26 Marauder  bomber, which was part of an Allied training fleet during the Second World War, from a nearby lake last week.

While details are sorted out between the government and the couple, the recovered material isn't going anywhere.

"What we have right now is a section of the aircraft, the nose section, on a trailer, out at the lake," Watson Lake RCMP Cpl. Tom Howell told CBC News on Wednesday.

"What we're dealing with here is an aircraft that's been known to be there for a while, but people who have salvaged it were doing it basically as a … working holiday, just trying to raise this wreck and perhaps restore it."

Yukon heritage not for export, official says

Officials with the Yukon's Department of Tourism and Culture, however, say the Alberta couple had no right to go treasure hunting for the bomber plane, and it's not theirs to keep.

"These assets are part of the Yukon's heritage and we manage them under the Historic Resources Act," said Jeff Hunston, the department's manager of heritage resources.

"Our heritage is not for acquisition and export outside of the Yukon without proper authorization, and these individuals do not have any permits or authorities from the Yukon government to undertake this sort of activity."

Hunston said the territorial government does not want any more of the aircraft recovered. The department is sending officials to Watson Lake to meet with the couple, he added.

National Defence to check out old bombs

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RCMP are trying to keep people away from the vintage bombs, which were found last week near the Watson Lake airport. ((Submitted by Cpl. Tom Howell))

Federal defence officials are also going to Watson Lake this week to address safety concerns with the bombs, which were found late last week near the local airport.

Howell said the bombs appear to weigh about 225 kilograms (500 pounds).

Mark Ritchie, the Yukon's superintendent for community airports, said it's no secret that Allied forces used the Watson Lake area as a practice field during the Second World War. Finding the bombs is a bit unusual, however, he added.

"We're currently working with the Department of National Defence to come up and investigate it," he said.

Howell said RCMP and airport authorities are expected to secure the area in the meantime.

"From our perspective, we're treating it as all live ordnance and keeping the public away — although, from what I understand, some of the public has snuck into the area having their pictures taken with these bombs," he said.

The Defence Department will decide what will happen next with the vintage bombs, Howell said.

Corrections

  • The remains of an aircraft recovered from a Yukon lake, were that of a B-26 Marauder, not a B-25 as previously reported.
    Oct 21, 2013 10:29 PM CT