UPDATE: Abandoned pressure cooker sparks bomb concerns, traffic shutdown

Bomb squad responds to a suspicious package on Newhall Ranch Road on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

5:00 p.m.

Bomb squad robot grabs the suspicious package – believed to be a pressure cooker – shakes it, rolls it, turns it upside and down, shines a light into it and reveals it is empty, an eyewitness said.

At that point, a tactical member of the LASD Arson/Explosives Unit “walked over to the device, picked it up and walked back with it,” Austin Dave, of The Signal said.

4:50 p.m.

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s deputies report they responded at 2:25 p.m Friday afternoon, to the intersection of Newhall Ranch Road/ Rye Canyon Road, Valencia regarding a suspicious package on the sidewalk.

“We are taking the necessary precautions to ensure safety of the public. Be prepared for traffic delays in the immediate area, as we have closed several intersections as we await the arrival of the LASD Arson/Explosives unit to access the suspicious package,” the social media post written by SCV Sheriff’s officials reads.

Current road closures in effect on and around Rye Canyon Road include:

– Westbound Newhall Ranch Road at Dickason Drive.
– Eastbound  Newhall Ranch Road at Gateway Village
– Northbound  Rye Canyon at Avenue Scott
– Southbound  Copper Hill Drive (Rye Canyon) at Kelly Johnson Parkway
– Northbound I-5 Freeway  off-ramp to Eastbound Newhall Ranch Road, traffic diverted to Westbound Newhall Ranch Road only.

Deputies advise they “please utilize alternate routes and we will update once area is deemed safe.

“Thank you for your patience and we apologize for any inconvenience, but your safety is our foremost concern, and we will always take every necessary precaution.”

4:35 p.m.

Bomb squad members concentrated their efforts around a pressure cooker – a device used in kitchen cooking – left at the base of traffic lights near the Walmart parking lot.

The silver and grey pressure cooker was found at the base of traffic lights positioned on the west side of West Rye Canyon Road at Newhall Ranch Road, eyewitness Austin Dave, of The Signal, said.

Squad members set up the remote-controlled bomb squad robot on a street across from the pressure cooker.

Bomb squad responds to a suspicious package on Newhall Ranch Road on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

4:00 p.m.

Local sheriff’s deputies shut down a stretch of Newhall Ranch Road Friday afternoon as they allowed bomb squad investigators to inspect a suspicious package found in the area.

About 4 p.m. members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s bomb squad – called the Arson/Explosives Unit – arrived at the scene to check out the package.

Lt. Leo Bauer of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station described the shutdown at 3 p.m. as a “precautionary” move and the situation itself as law enforcement “operation.”

Mid-afternoon Friday, deputies with the help of City of Santa Clarita public works crews stopped all westbound traffic on Newhall Ranch Road at Copper Hill Drive and Rye Canyon Road, Bauer said.

At the same time, officers with the California Highway Patrol were asked by the sheriff’s station to stop all eastbound traffic on Newhall Ranch Road at Interstate 5, a spokeswoman at the CHP headquarters office said.

“The Sheriff department there is investigating an incident and they asked for our help,” she said.

Bauer told The Signal: “We are looking into something.

“We have units trying to connect something of concern to us,” he said. “This is a precaution, shutting down the area.”

Bauer said he would have more details about the operation later today.

Asked if they were investigating a gas leak or shooting, he said “nothing like that.”

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