Grenade scare clears airport Friday

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A belt buckle shaped like a hand grenade created a stir and led to a brief evacuation of Yampa Valley Regional Airport on Friday afternoon.

The grenade belt buckle belonged to a 24-year-old Steamboat Springs man who was going through security on his way to a midday flight. When Transportation Safety Administration workers saw the grenade-like buckle going through the X-ray machine at check-in, they stopped the belt, evacuated the airport and called the Hayden Police Department, Hayden Police Chief Jody Lenahan said.

"They were sharp, they saw that," Lenahan said about the TSA workers, noting that the buckle was shaped as a realistic imitation of a grenade.

The man wearing it was questioned, and was embarrassed and very cooperative, Lenahan said. The man told police that he'd shown the buckle to a ticketing agent before putting it in a plastic container to go through the X-ray machine. Apparently, the ticketing agent saw nothing to be alarmed about and didn't alert the X-ray operators to the item that was coming through their machine.

The incident happened at about 12:20 p.m., and the airport was evacuated for 5 to 10 minutes, Lenahan said. With the exception of the belt buckle's owner, who was retained for questioning, no one missed his or her flight, he said.

YVRA Aviation Director Jim Parker also thought the TSA workers made the right call in stopping operations and evacuating the area.

"They were taking the proper precautions," he said.

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