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Chemical-filled bottles found at Arrowhead-Weston power line

The Douglas County Sheriff's office and the FBI are investigating who planted between 15 and 25 soda bottles containing chemicals near the controversial Arrowhead-Weston power line in the Town of Parkland.

The Douglas County Sheriff's office and the FBI are investigating who planted between 15 and 25 soda bottles containing chemicals near the controversial Arrowhead-Weston power line in the Town of Parkland.

The bottles were first discovered Tuesday by a power line employee working on the 210-mile project.

Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec said the devices were "homemade stuff you basically make up in your kitchen. ... They're not elaborate.''

Lyman Lake Road from County Road Z to Valley Brook Road was closed Thursday as the FBI and sheriff's deputies searched the area. Dalbec said the road could be closed through today.

"We're not sure exactly what the ingredients are at this time until we get the evidence back to our lab and determine exactly what the makeup is,'' said Raymond Greco, supervisory senior resident agent for the FBI in Green Bay. "We'll know better exactly what the potential destructiveness of these devices [is] and the sophistication of them.''

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Greco said the FBI is involved in the investigation because it's a federal offense for anyone to cause damage to or destroy an energy facility, and the power lines fall under that statute.

Dalbec said authorities haven't determined whether someone was trying to make a political statement. No written messages were found.

"We don't know if somebody's intent was to go out and make a statement against the power line or if they were to make a statement against government in general, or if it potentially may be some kids out screwing around and having fun. We just don't know.''

Dalbec said the devices were found on the power line right-of-way. There was a concentration in one spot and more were found down the road in an area spread over at least a mile, he said. The nearest year-round residences were about a half-mile away.

"It wasn't serious in the fact that no one got hurt or killed, but that was the potential here,'' Dalbec said. Dalbec said the Air National Guard's 148th Fighter Wing bomb squad in Duluth responded to the scene.

Dalbec said that any resident who sees anything suspicious in the area should stay away from it and contact his office at (715) 395-1375. Anyone who has any information about who placed the devices also is asked to contact the sheriff's office.

The power line construction began about two years ago with the $420 million line being built from the Wausau area north toward Duluth. The first 150 miles were completed and energized at the end of last year.

"At this point, we've completed about 200 of 220 miles,'' Holtz said from his Pewaukee, Wis., headquarters Thursday. "We're about 90 percent done and we expect to be done with construction by the end of the year ahead of schedule.''

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Fox21 News reporter Lisa Waldrup contributed to this report.MARK STODGHILL covers public safety and courts. He can be reached weekdays at (218) 723-5333 or by e-mail at mstodghill@duluthnews.com .

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