A LARGE expanse of Swanage's beachfront was cordoned off this afternoon after a corroded cylinder was discovered half-buried in sand.
Around 200 metres of the seafront beneath the Grand Hotel in Burlington Road was taped off, and beach huts evacuated, while emergency services investigated.
A spokesperson from the Dorset Fire and Rescue Service said the corroded object, which had been washed up above the water line, is believed to contain acetylene, used in welding.
Acetylene is an extremely flammable and unstable gas.
Officers from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team visited the beach at 4.30pm to decide whether the cylinder was not a risk to members of the public, or if it needed to be disposed of.
They discovered it was an empty gas cylinder, and took it away with them.
Jane Russell, who was staying at the Grand Hotel, said she had seen a man with a ponytail “kicking” the cylinder as she walked on the beach yesterday morning.
Jane, who was visiting Swanage from London for the blues festival, said: “I was on the beach alone this morning - it was pretty empty but there was one man with a ponytail who started kicking a cylindrical object half-buried in the sand.”
He then called the emergency services, and the Coastguard, police officers and firefighters soon arrived and cordoned off the area.
One retained crew from Swanage attended the scene, as well as Coastguard officials.
The cordon was lifted shortly afterwards.