An Oregon State Police bomb squad defused a pipe bomb early Wednesday afternoon after it was found alongside Pioneer Road southwest of Medford.

An Oregon State Police bomb squad defused a pipe bomb early Wednesday afternoon after it was found alongside Pioneer Road southwest of Medford.

Police closed about a quarter-mile stretch of the road for about two hours while bomb squad officials worked to isolate and defuse the device. Several cars driving along the stretch were told to turn around until OSP completed containment. No one was hurt.

Jackson County Sheriff's Department officials responded to the rural area southwest of Phoenix at 10 a.m. An inmate work crew found the suspicious device in the 4000 block of Pioneer Road during a cleanup detail, said Lt. Marty Clark of the Sheriff's Department. He described the device as metal, about 4 inches in diameter and 8 inches in length, with a fuse attached.

"It's bigger than the normal ones," Clark said. "One that size would kill somebody. They're so unstable we can't even move them."

Dressed in a blast suit, Blain Allen, a detective with the OSP Explosives Unit, first approached the pipe from vehicles parked about 100 yards from the device. He laboriously made his way down and back up the hill several times before setting off a charge that detached one of the bomb's end caps, defusing it.

The defusing effort culminated with a loud pop that sounded up and down the stretch of road. Fire crews did not need to soak down the spot with water. "The bomb itself did not go off," Clark said.

Police said they don't know how long the pipe bomb had been there. They said that typically the devices they find are made with PVC pipe instead of metal pipe. "This was a bit more refined," Clark said, adding the devices are found more frequently in rural areas, where there's less chance of suspects being seen by witnesses.

Jackson County Fire District No. 5 and Oregon Department of Forestry crews joined OSP and police at the scene for precautionary fire suppression, as the bomb was found on the side of the road in an area filled with dry grass and weeds. Fire crews were ready to extinguish any fires that could have ignited and spread in the nearby grass. Captain Jim Campbell of Fire District No. 5 said the lack of wind also helped crews.

"We had lines charged," Campbell said. "Worst-case scenario would have been about a half-acre or so."

Police still are investigating the device to see if they can find any evidence leading them to potential suspects.

"Right at this point, (it's) totally unknown," Clark said.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.