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April 18, 2014

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Device found in Colorado town not an explosive

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 | 4:47 p.m.

BUENA VISTA, Colo. (AP) — Authorities say a device found in the bed of a pickup in a Colorado mountain town wasn't an explosive after all.

Chaffee (CHAY'-fee) County Sheriff Pete Palmer says the object discovered Tuesday in Buena Vista (BYOO'-nuh VIS'-tuh) was either a practice military shell or a replica of one, wired to a cellphone.

U.S. 24 has been reopened. It was closed while a bomb squad from nearby Colorado Springs determined what the device was.

Palmer says he doesn't know why the object was left in the pickup. But he says it looked very dangerous, prompting a cautious law-enforcement response.

The device has been sent to a federal crime lab in Colorado Springs for analysis.

Buena Vista is a small mining town and whitewater tourist destination about 135 miles southwest of Denver.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Authorities blocked off a major highway in a Colorado mountain town Tuesday after someone found a suspected bomb in the bed of a pickup truck parked near the community's police station.

Chaffee County Sheriff Pete Palmer said a member of the Buena Vista library's maintenance staff discovered the device — an artillery shell with wires attached to a cellphone. It was in the back of her pickup, which was parked downtown between the library and police station.

Another investigator said the device looked like a mortar round.

"We have not had any threats," Palmer said. "Someone apparently put it in the back of a pickup truck while the cleaning lady was inside."

Palmer said the woman did not know how the device got into the bed of her truck.

The Buena Vista School District sent out an alert message telling parents that the district has been put on "lockout" status because of the situation, meaning students and staff can move freely through the school but no one is allowed in or out.

The El Paso County bomb squad has been called in to handle the device. A stretch of U.S. Highway 24 has been closed during the investigation.

Buena Vista is a small mining town and whitewater tourist destination about 135 miles southwest of Denver.