UPDATE 6 p.m. After blasting it with water, the San Luis Obispo County Bomb Task Force has ruled that a device found in Grover Beach isn’t dangerous.
While authorities haven’t said whether the device was a bomb, Grover Beach Police Chief Jim Copsey said it contained components one might find in an explosive.
Police describe the device as a container wrapped in twine, with wires and batteries attached to it.
The task force determined that the device was safe about 4:50 p.m. after using a high-velocity water system to “disrupt (its) potential or possible explosive characteristics,” Copsey said.
Police are interviewing Robert Wharton, who was driving the van. He told police that it wasn’t an explosive, Copsey said.
Wharton, whose age and hometown weren’t immediately available Wednesday, was arrested on suspicion of methamphetamine possession violating terms of his probation.
He hadn't yet been booked into County jail as of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
County probation officers spotted the device in the back of Wharton’s van after they had pulled him over to do a probation check.
Road barriers are now being lifted to reopen the surrounding streets and businesses where employees and customers were evacuated about three hours before.
Original story: About a dozen businesses have been evacuated in Grover Beach after county probation officers stopped a man driving a van and spotted what appeared to be some type of explosive device in his vehicle in the 900 block of West Grand Avenue.
Grover Beach police were called about 2:30 p.m. and evacuated employees and customers in the businesses, including a post office, in the complex between Grand and Ramona avenues and Ninth and 10th streets, said Police Chief Jim Copsey.
Police are now waiting for the county bomb task force to arrive and investigate.
The man in the vehicle, Robert Wharton, was arrested on suspicion of a probation violation and is being interviewed, Copsey said. The device was located on the floor in the back seat of his vehicle.
Wharton’s father was with him but he has not been detained, Copsey said.
— Cynthia Lambert