// After Hearing Rumors About New Home, This Man Made a Chilling Backyard Discovery

For anyone who’s started the process or purchasing property before, you know all about the ups and down it can bring. From inspections to negotiations to finances, it can be a real heart-stopper when you find a place that looks good on the outside, but has some hidden secrets on the inside.

So, when John Sims heard that there were rumors that there might be something secret hidden in the backyard of his new home, he instantly started to look into it. Little did he know that he would unravel a mystery that would jump-start his heart back up.

Keep on reading to journey with John Sims about unraveling the truth about his home’s hidden secret.

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Property Hunt Luck

It was in the mid-2010s that Fire Chief John Sims was ready to buy some new property. As an Arizona native, he knew he wanted to purchase a place in his sweet hometown of Tucson, Arizona. Fortunately, he got some luck with the property hunt in 2015, and was able to find the place through a friend, who guaranteed that the house had been upkept well by the previous owners.

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Property Hunt Luck

And while it seemed that there weren't any issues with the previous owners, there was, in fact, one little detail about the past of the property itself.

The Beautiful, Arid Desert

Part of the disclosed information included the location of where this mystery lay hidden. Apparently, there wasn’t something inside the house, but possibly something beneath the house, that seemed to have some sort of significance. But if John Sims’ friends hadn’t dug up whatever it was that was underneath the ground, then how important could it have been?

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The Beautiful, Arid Desert
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Then again, Tucson is in the midst of the beautiful, arid desert of Arizona, so it seems like it could be anything at that point. Right?

Something, Somewhere Over There

So what and where exactly was this supposed mystery? Well it turns out his friend found out that there was something beneath the ground, located somewhere in the backyard. Just because the previous owners weren’t interested in discovering what their house had hidden, though, didn’t mean that Sims had to feel the same.

Something, Somewhere Over There

He truly couldn’t set this underlying curiosity aside once he became the new home-owner. However, it wouldn’t be until about half a year later that he would actually get a chance to dive in and discover.

Handling the Heat

Tucson Arizona isn’t exactly known for its cool, shaded climate. And come the months of April to November, the temperatures can get really high. However, the unbearable heat truly hits come summer time.

Handling the Heat

And, of course, at the time that Fire Chief John Sims was getting ready to finally do some digging, the day was scorching up to extreme desert temperatures. Reaching into the triple-digit-degrees, John wasn’t necessarily phased by this. After all, he was a Fire Chief for the fire department; if he knew how to handle anything, it was the heat.

Blind Digging

Heat wasn’t the only thing that Fire Chief John Sims knew how to handle. Although he wasn’t sure exactly what it was that he was going to dig up, he at least had some idea of how to execute his plan safely. Or so he thought, at least.

The eager, new home-owner started digging up a hole, and then another, and then another. But after digging up several shallow holes in the ground, he started to lose a little bit of hope.

Blind Digging

Nothing was for certain about what was in his backyard, or if there even was anything there to begin with. And so far, he wasn’t finding anything except for dirt.

Tackling the Logistics

John had spent some time under the sun digging up some holes, but so far, he had nothing to show. As devastating as it was to have ruined his brand-new backyard for what felt like nothing, John didn’t want to give up. He couldn’t give up. He had this hunch in the pit of his stomach that he needs to keep going and change the course of his plan.

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Tackling the Logistics
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That’s when it hit him! Perhaps there were some old records of the property that would have another hint or maybe the answer to whether something was hidden in the backyard or not.

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Sims’s Imagination

Before getting a hold of the building records, Fire Chief John Sims’ imagination started running wild. His gut feeling was telling him there was definitely something in his backyard. And not just anything, something significant that was clearly worth digging up. But what could it possibly be?

Tucson, Arizona is quite close to Mexico. Could it have been some Native American or Aztec treasures? Or perhaps an extinct animal’s skeleton? Or maybe it was a historical time capsule dug up for future civilization to find?

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Sims’s Imagination
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Whatever it was, Sims was in for a real surprise upon his further investigations!

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Getting the Official Records

It was time to execute the logistics side of the action-plan and get some formal proof of what was really going on under the Sims residence.

Apparently, over half a century ago, a very special piece of history was built underground. All Sims could think was, “I was hoping it wasn’t a septic tank,” he shared with Tucson.com.

Getting the Official Records

Whatever the blueprints were showing though, was something historical from the Cold War period in the ‘60s. More specifically, something built by Whitaker Pools in 1961.

Where is the Shovel?

As soon as John got the building records, he was even more enthusiastic than he was before. There was at least some proof showing that something existed there at some point. John shared with Tucson.com, “The first thing I did is ask if [my friend] had a shovel.”

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Where is the Shovel?
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And while the blue prints had suggested that it actually might be a bunker shelter, Sims was nervous that it was actually a septic tank for sewage and waste – yuck! And we can understand why he’d be nervous about that, considering the blueprints were from 54 years ago.

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Time for Help

Regardless, it was time for the next steps in John’s plan. He was ready to dig whatever was down there up – right then and there! But even though John might’ve been a professional fire marshal, that’s well-rounded when it comes to retrieval of people in fires, when it came to finding something underground, he had hit a bit of a rough patch there. It was becoming clear that this job required much more than just shoveling up, and that it was time to reach out for some additional help.

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Time for Help
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Pin-pointing the Place to Prod

It was time to call in the next round of professionals – a consultant who specialized in metal detectors and item retrieval.

Fire Chief Sims got in contact with the consultant and had him test the waters around the backyard. According to the building records, they should’ve had some idea of where to look. But alas, no luck.

Pin-pointing the Place to Prod

Sims was on the verge of throwing in the towel, once again, when a bit of luck finally struck! The metal detector was finally going off, and they had pin-pointed the place to start digging!

3 Feet Underground

With the help of the metal detector, John knew exactly where he could start digging. He was excited that he decided to listen to his gut and follow through with the search, but still had no idea what to expect.

3 Feet Underground

He grabbed his shovel and got to work. Inch by inch, foot by foot, the dirt that once laid underground disappeared and transformed into a three-feet-hole in the earth. But the hole of dirt had revealed a round, rusted metal dome. What exactly did John just uncover?

Identifying the Metal Object

With sweat dripping down his back, the high temperatures of the desert didn’t seem to matter once John had hit this big piece of metal buried below the surface.

And he had no idea what it was that he had just found, but he was relieved to know that it wasn’t a septic tank. John kept on digging up a bit more until he could identify exactly what it was, he was dealing with.

Identifying  the Metal Object

Finally, he uncovered the whole piece! He had found what looks like a heavy-duty entry door. How exactly was he going to open it?

Handling More Than the Heat

We mentioned that Fire Chief John Sims knew how to handle heat, but that’s not all he was equipped to manage. Because of his experience and background in both the rural and metro fire department, not only could he figure out how to prop open the door, but he was aware of all the possible risks in the situation.

So before jumping down the rabbit hole of underground historic wonders, the Chief made sure to be fully prepared beforehand.

Handling More Than the Heat

And as soon as he propped open the door, he couldn’t wait to dive in!

The First Look

There it was, 36 inches below the earth’s surface, a mesmerizing piece of history.

In order to prop open the door, he had done some more “detailed-digging” to isolate it, and used his handy-dandy fireman skills to open it up. As he eagerly peeped down into the entryway of the door, he was able to see a spiral case leading to somewhere even deeper into the ground, building up his excitement even more than before!

The First Look

But before any more exploring, he needed to come up with his next plan of action. He might’ve been able to open the door without any extra help, but it wouldn’t be so easy from the inside if something happened.

Taking Safety Precautions

“If the lid fell back in, there was no way I could lift it from underneath it,” John explained to Tucson.org. He further explained, “I know too much about confined space, and I was alone at home.”

Taking Safety Precautions

This meant it was crucial for him to have a team of professionals at his side just in case anything would happen. But that wasn’t the only risk he needed to be prepared for. Making sure he has a safe entry and exit was important, but so was being able to breathe the trapped air. And as a professional, John knew exactly how to test the air for mold – how cool!

Checking the Air for Toxins

Making sure John had a safe entry and exit for himself, along with a rescue team, was important. But who knew what was down there? There could be something hazardous, or perhaps, some materials that were contaminated and now toxic. So, inspecting that it was okay to breathe the trapped air down below was next on the safety precautions list.

Checking the Air for Toxins

John did his inspections and got his team ready for their mission – it was finally time to unravel his new home’s hidden history!

Preparing for the Worst and Hoping for the Best

John gathered a group of his friends and briefed them on everything they needed to know. They were in uncharted territory and needed to be prepared for anything like getting trapped, a possible collapse, high temperatures, falling or getting injured, etc.

Plus, this wasn’t just some retrieval and rescue mission, this was something that John had started to build a passion for, too. John took this very seriously, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. But above all else, he was more than ready to travel down the hole.

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Preparing for the Worst and Hoping for the Best
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So what exactly did he dig up?

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Descending the Depths of Downstairs

He and his team devised a plan and were ready to take action. As John embarked on his journey, he realized that the structure was in fact what they had thought all along, and he couldn’t believe it!

It turns out the official records were correct and that the structure built by Whitaker Pools on John’s property back in 1961 was in fact a fiberglass bomb shelter!

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Descending the Depths of Downstairs
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While John descended to the depths of the shelter, his mind started to run wild with every single step that he took down. What was he going to find at the bottom of the stairway?

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Hoping for a Time Capsule

Unfortunately, John couldn’t make it very far on his first voyage down. The staircase had been so rusted and damaged from time, and it was far from safe to descend.

“I was really hoping it was going to be a little microcosm…a time capsule full of civil-defense boxes, radiation detectors and cots and stuff like that,” John shared with Tucson.org.

Hoping for a Time Capsule

But John wasn’t going to give up hope, yet! He had already come so far, and there was major progress. It was time to come up with another master plan on how to proceed. The team hit the drawing board and started coming up with blue prints and plans to refurbish the stairs.

Handling the Heat… Again

With the heat and high temperatures, not only did the team need to make sure they were staying hydrated and working safely, but they were also concerned about how it would affect the bunker, too.

Handling the Heat… Again

Although, from what John could tell, the shelter didn’t seem to have much more than dirt and rubble collected over the years. Still, the team set-up a Sonotube cardboard structure to make sure the cementing for the stairs wasn’t going to interfere with, and a tent for themselves to work under. Just like we mentioned earlier, heat wasn’t the only thing that was going to be a potential issue.

Repairing the Stairs

That was it – this had officially become John’s passion project. Once he transcended (or attempted to) down those steps, he was extremely excited to uncover this part of hidden history. The first focus was going to be on repairing the steps. How exactly? They built a stable structure with rebar and concrete, in order to secure an accessible path.

Next on the list was to get consultations and check in with engineers on how to go about restoring the rest of the bunker and structure itself.

Repairing the Stairs

But his curiosity for what was down below was still aching, and as patient as he knew he needed to be, John still couldn’t wait until he could actually get down there himself and check it out!

The Final Touches of Preparation

The team had gotten the heat situation handled as best as they could – one thing down, another couple to go. For now, the stairs didn’t seem like the best option for an entry way, so for the time being, they would use a ladder.

However, since John was equipped to test the condition of the air, the team knew it was necessary to create a source of fresh air. In order to do this, they installed a special black pipe to funnel clean and fresh air.

And last but not least, while using flashlights might be a fun touch, the team took a more practical approach to brighten up the cavern. They worked together and installed a power line to source electricity and lighting.

What a brilliant team! Right?

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The Final Touches of Preparation
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And now, it was time for the fun part.

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“A Real Cheap Job”

At first John was nervous he would find a septic tank, then realized it was a bunker shelter, and was now ready to go down and explore what it actually would look like.

John shared his initial thoughts with news channel KGUN9: “I kind of thought it might have been a real cheap job like a storm drain just thrown in to the yard with the little bit of the steps or something.”

“A Real Cheap Job”

However, once he actually went down, he was absolutely stunned by what he had just found.

Reaching Out to Others via the Internet

Overwhelmed with curiosity and excitement, John turned to the wonders of the Internet for his next steps. He posted asking if anybody else had found a “fallout” bunker shelter in their backyards, as well. And surprisingly enough, many people actually responded to him!

It turns out that having them in the ‘60s was actually quite common, what with the situation during the Cold War.

Reaching Out to Others via the Internet

It was then that John realized that he wanted to completely renovate the place and honor its historic memory in a special way.

A Blank Canvas

Most of the concrete inside seemed to be quite intact, which meant that John only needed to focus on completing the stairway and securing the entry room. And surprisingly enough, the fiberglass wasn’t actually attached to the ceiling that well, so John was able to rip it off and create a cool “planetarium” feel for the space. Asides from that, the actual area itself was completely empty – not even one piece of furniture was found.

A Blank Canvas

This left John a completely blank canvas to go crazy on and do whatever he pleased with ease. So what exactly was he going to do now?

Involving the Online Community

John spent the better half of 2016 working on the construction of the shelter. Whether it was cleaning it out, refurbishing the walls and ceiling, or collecting some items for decoration ideas.

He even kept the social media ball rolling and started to keep people up-to-date on his milestones and achievements, including starting a GoFundMe page to help with the renovation costs along with involving the community in the project. After all, it was a piece of Tucson history.

Involving the Online Community

As he started to gain more and more attention for his grand, historical find, people were wondering what exactly he was envisioning for this space.

What Does the Community Think?

As far as what John’s vision for the fallout shelter goes, he’s still unsure. He’s had friends and members of the community suggest all sorts of ideas. If you have any ideas for what you would do with the space, we’re sure John would love to hear about it!

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What Does the Community Think?
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But what has the community so far suggested to him? John shared with news channel KGUN9 that “a lot of people said I should turn it into a wine cellar or a cigar bar.” And while he seemed excited about those suggestions, there is actually one other thing he does have in mind that might be a cool idea.

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A Historical Man-Cave

Let’s face it. How would it be to have an actual “man-cave” hidden three feet underground? “I thought it would be cool to host some poker games down here. I think it would be a unique buy-in,” John revealed in his interview withKGUN9.

A Historical Man-Cave

And while he’s still debating on what he actually wants to turn this historical Cold War remnant, he knows for sure that he wants part of it to be some sort of museum or exhibit to display, educate, and commemorate what life was like back then.

Keeping History Alive

Vintage pieces are something that will always be cherished, and John is one of those people who truly value history. He has claimed that he definitely wants part of the shelter to include some form of a museum. Over time he has been acquiring all sorts of “how-to-survive” guides from the ‘60s, emergency supplies from the Cold War era, and all sorts of other civil war artifacts.

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Keeping History Alive
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Whatever John chooses to do, it’s heartwarming to see how someone can get so inspired by keeping the history of our country from over half a century ago alive. Good luck, Fire Chief!

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Purchasing a New Property

It’s exciting for anybody to be purchasing a house. And it’s even more relieving when you’ve purchased from someone that you already know and trust. Fire Chief John Sims couldn’t wait to start his new life in his new home. Yet, the little potential possibility of what was hidden in his house was going to drive Fire Chief Sims’ curiosity crazy. With that said, Sims knew he needed to be patient until the property was under his full ownership before doing anything.

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Purchasing a New Property

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