This story was updated at 5:30 p.m.
BARSTOW - An explosive device in the back of a truck at the Barstow courthouse Wednesday afternoon proved to be a military flare.

The flare shut down East Mountain View Street around the courthouse as law enforcement officials determined how to safely remove the device. Detectives from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department's Bombs and Arson Detail removed the flare, found near Soap Mine Road, from the back of the truck and handed it off to an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit from Fort Irwin.

Det. Harry Hatch of the Bombs and Arson Detail said if the flare, which is fired from aircraft to light up ground troops or landing zones at night, had gone off in the parking lot, it would have burned the truck to a crisp. The flare is about three feet long, silver in color with white labels on the outside.

Vicki Fox, a Barstow resident, found the flare stashed in a tunnel in the Mojave River bottom near Soap Mine Road at around 2 p.m. She said she knew what the flare was and brought it to the Barstow sheriff's station, which shares a parking lot with the courthouse on the 200 block of East Mountain View, so kids would not find it and hurt themselves.

"If they'd pulled those cords, they would have been fried," Fox said.

Despite her good intentions, Hatch said touching or moving military ordnances is dangerous. He said some of the ordnances lying in the desert have been fired but have not exploded, making them extremely volatile.

"If someone moves it, it could - not would - but it could fire," Hatch said. "When people find military ordnances, they should leave them where they lie."

Officers from the Barstow Police Department closed Mountain View between Barstow Road and Second Street for about two hours until the device was removed.

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