Employees evacuated after three items were discovered at Fruitland plant
FARMINGTON — Employees at the Four Corners Power Plant in Fruitland were evacuated Monday after three suspicious devices were discovered in one of the power plant's generating units.
Arizona Public Service Co. spokeswoman Jenna Shaver said Monday the devices, which are approximately six inches in length and capped at both ends, were discovered inside unit 4 of the power plant before 9 a.m. APS is the plant's majority owner.
FBI spokesman Frank Fisher confirmed Monday evening that three suspicious devices were investigated at the plant, but declined to say whether they contained explosive material.
"This is a slow process," he said.
Shaver said Monday evening the suspicious devices had been removed from the plant and normal operations will continue today, with appropriate security measures in place.
The discovery resulted in "non-essential" plant employees being evacuated from the plant, Shaver said.
Shaver said "essential" employees remained on site throughout the day Monday and units 4 and 5 of the power plant continued to operate.
Units 1 through 3 were permanently retired in 2013.
Farmington police spokeswoman Georgette Allen said the Farmington Police Department's bomb squad responded to the plant after receiving reports of a suspicious package, but the FBI was the lead agency in the investigation.
Farmington police officers were joined at the plant by FBI agents, Navajo police officers, New Mexico State Police officers and San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputies.
Earlier in the day, Fisher said it was too soon to say whether the incident at the power plant was connected to reports of explosions outside two Las Cruces churches Sunday morning.
Vehicles packed with employees streamed out of the power plant shortly after 1 p.m. Monday as Navajo police officers blocked entrance to the facility. The Four Corners Power Plant employs 344 people, Shaver said.
One woman, who asked that she not be identified, parked her vehicle near the police cordon to wait for her husband, a temporary employee, to exit the plant.
"He scared me," she said. "He called me up and said there was a bomb threat."
Daily Times reporter Noel Lyn Smith contributed to this story.