The FBI and dozens of local authorities are responding to an improvised explosive device found in a truck near a Colorado highway, a county official confirmed Tuesday afternoon.
Chaffee County spokeswoman Laura Smith told TheBlaze that more than 50 members of law enforcement are responding to an explosive device after it was discovered in a truck at about 7:15 a.m. At least one member of the FBI is also on the scene providing assistance to local authorities, she confirmed.
“They’ve sent a robot in to assess the IED,” Smith said. “The goal is to disarm the device.”
According to the Gazette, the device is being described as a “mortar round with wires and a cell phone attached to it.”
It was not clear if federal authorities were investigating the incident as a potential act of terrorism. Neither a spokesperson for the FBI or Department of Homeland Security immediately responded to TheBlaze’s request for comment.
Smith, however, said she was “unaware” if authorities were currently looking into who may be responsible for the device.
“Not that I know of,” she said. “I’m not aware of that. The whole situation is under investigation, but the only thing I am aware of is they are trying to assess the IED and disarm it.”
[sharequote align=”center”]”The whole situation is under investigation…”[/sharequote]
The device was discovered by a cleaning lady early in the morning. Smith said the cleaning lady left her keys in her vehicle, went back to retrieve them and noticed a device in the bed of her truck.
Authorities immediately responded, issued a “code red alert,” established a 100 foot perimeter and phoned in a bomb squad.
Highway 24 has been closed and traffic is being diverted from mile marker 210 to 211, Smith said, adding that some schools are implementing emergency procedures.
For updates, residents are urged to follow the Chaffee County Office of Emergency Management’s Facebook page.
UPDATE, 9:35 p.m. ET — 2/18/14: An update to the Chaffee County Office of Emergency Management’s Facebook page says that the mortar found was a “practice round and nothing suspicious.”
The highway has reopened and “the Buena Vista Police Department assumed custody of the scene and assigned the investigation to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).”
“Officials with the ATF will take the device to their lab for processing,” the Facebook post added.
Smith told TheBlaze that authorities are still not certain how or why the device was placed in the back of the truck. She confirmed that it was thought to have had wires connected to a cell phone streaming out of it, but stressed that police ultimately determined the device was a practice round.
The investigation is still ongoing. It is sill unclear if federal authorities are looking into the incident as a potential terrorism related event.
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