Parts of Woodland Park Evacuated and Shut Down from Discovery of Explosive Device
~ by Rick Langenberg ~
Anti-bomb squads arrive to defuse problems
In what some Woodland Park neighbors described as a reported “treasure hunt” in Lake George earlier today ended with the evacuation of at least 50 homes as authorities took swift and detailed action to defuse a live mortar round, or explosive device, found by a six-year-old boy and his grandfather.
Plus, a section of U.S. Hwy. 24 was shut down and residents on three streets in Woodland Park were asked to leave their homes.
Problems developed when the device in question was transported by car from Lake George to a residential area on Bridle Lane, in the west section of Woodland Park off Hwy. 24. The boy and his grandfather were doing some “treasure hunting” in Lake George, according to one report, when they came across the mortar round.
A neighbor, regarded as military expert, then detected potential explosion problems with the device and alerted authorities. This particular neighbor had recently moved into the area, according to other residents.
The device was examined by authorities at a wooded section near the neighbor’s home under tight security guidelines.
Teller County Sheriff officials learned of the discovery around 3:30 p.m. and alerted EOD officials from Fort Carson and Colorado Springs. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency was also contacted.
Shortly after authorities arrived on the scene, authorities started working to build a sand brim around the live mortar round. Initially, residents were asked to shelter in place as the Fort Carson bomb disposal unit responded to the scene.
Neighbors in the area knew something was awry when sheriff vehicles started parading through their residential area and shut down part of the street. “This is a lot more excitement for Bridle Lane residents than what we are used to,” quipped one resident. Resident Tracy Zentz stated that residents didn’t feel threatened, but knew something was wrong.
However, discoveries of explosive devices like this aren’t unusual, according to authorities.
“This is a military town,” said Sheriff Jason Mikesell, who speculated that the live mortar round may have originated from a military exercise in the area at one time. He doesn’t believe any foul play was involved. Authorities confirmed that no explosions occurred, following the discovery, and no injuries were reported
Mikesell, a 20-year-veteran of the agency, said he has encountered cases like this before.
Shortly after 5:30 p.m. crews evacuated homes on Ranch Drive, Valley Drive, and Bridle Drive in Woodland Park. Highway 24 in the area of Bridle was closed from CR231 to Lafayette Avenue. About 50 homes were under evacuated
Deputies asked nearby residents to evacuate because they were reportedly concerned about the actual blast Fort Carson EOD would have to do to render the mortar round safe. This is referred to as a “rendering safety process.” Residents and media representatives were escorted to the West and Main Street area.
Authorities didn’t disclose how long the disarming of the possible explosive device process will take.“This is still an active investigation,” said Mikesell.