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Tampered rocket motor container prompts evacuation

(The Associated Press circulated the following story on June 10.)

YERMO -- The lock on a railroad car carrying a U.S. Navy rocket motor was tampered with early Friday, prompting authorities to evacuate at least 100 residents who live near the train yard in this high desert town.

Union Pacific notified San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies about a burglary alarm on the car at 2:20 a.m., sheriff's spokesman Chip Patterson said.

"Deputies responded and they discovered some bolts to the box car had in some way been tampered with and it had been opened," Patterson said. Deputies could not determine if the motor had been damaged, so the Navy asked for the evacuation, he said. A community center in nearby Barstow was set up as an evacuation center.

A Navy representative was on his way to Yermo, located 100 miles east of Los Angeles, to check the motor out, Patterson said.

Yermo, 11 miles north of Barstow, sits alongside Interstate 15, a heavily traveled highway linking Southern California to Las Vegas.

The freeway was not closed, Patterson said, although a frontage road and several surface streets were closed.

Monday, June 13, 2005

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