Downtown Ashland businesses around the Plaza have been evacuated this afternoon after a suspected bomb was found at the base of the Lincoln statue at the lower entrance to Lithia Park.

The device, which was reported about 1:15 p.m., had an apparent timer affixed to it and wires along with the words “This is a hoax” written on it, according to the Ashland Police Department.

Ashland police quickly evacuated Ashland City Hall as well as all businesses within a 200-foot “hot zone” around the statue, police said. Also, police have issued a ban on radio and cellular telephone use within the “hot zone” as well.

Those evacuations remain in place as the Oregon State Police’s Bomb Squad was called to Ashland, police said. The bomb squad was expected on scene about 2:45 p.m., police said.

— Mark Freeman