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Authorities: It could've been a bomb

ROGUE RIVER — A device suspected of being a bomb was found outside a Rogue River apartment complex Thursday, but after the bomb squad blew it up, it turned out to be a makeshift piece of exercise equipment.

The incident closed North River Road for about an hour and ended with a bang when the Oregon State Police bomb squad blew off the end of a 4-foot piece of PVC pipe that had been sealed at both ends.

Police say the device was likely a "slosh pipe" — a sealed length of pipe filled with water that is used for strength training.

Bryan Taylor, a maintenance employee at the Rogue Terrace Apartments, had been making his morning rounds and picking up litter just after 7 a.m. when he spotted the pipe in some bark mulch next to a sidewalk.

When he bent to pick it up, it weighed more than he expected.

"That made me nervous," Taylor said. "A little unnerving, given the way the world is today."

Taylor called the police, who blocked off the driveway with caution tape and moved cars that were parked near the device.

"It (was) in a very unusual spot," Rogue River police Chief Ken Lewis said, adding that no construction or similar work had been reported nearby.

No apartments were evacuated, but police asked residents to stay inside. North River Road running past the complex was blocked off, and traffic was diverted.

The OSP bomb squad responded from Salem because the Central Point squad was not available, Lewis said. When police exploded the end off the pipe, a loud boom echoed up the street.

The noise made Rogue Terrace resident Shirley Taueetia jump.

"My stomach still feels strange," she said after the detonation.

No one was hurt, and no damage resulted.

Police don't know why the PVC pipe was left there.

Lewis said one or two nighttime explosions had been reported around Rogue River the first two weeks of January, drawing complaints from citizens.

"They shake the town," Lewis said. "It'd be (like) the kind of aerial fireworks you'd see at a professional display."

Police have taken reports of sky rockets but have not found any debris. OSP removed a firework wrapped in duct tape on Jan. 2 in Palmerton Park. No explosions have been reported the last two weeks.

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

A member of the Oregon State Police bomb squad checks a large plastic pipe after covering it with sandbags and blowing the end off. - Bob Pennell