By Joseph J. Kolb
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Reuters) - A large coal-fired power plant in northwest New Mexico was evacuated on Monday after three suspicious devices were found nearby, a day after explosive devices were detonated outside two churches in the southern part of the state.
Law enforcement officials removed the devices to an isolated area at the Four Corners Power Plant in Fruitland, some 190 miles (305 km) northwest of Albuquerque, and destroyed them, officials said.
Officials determined the devices were not explosives or a threat to plant personnel or operations, said Jenna Shaver, a spokeswoman for facility owner Arizona Public Service Company.
The three devices were found in Unit 4 of the facility and all but 89 of the 344 employees on site were sent home. The remaining employees were relocated to another building a safe distance away, Shaver said.
Arizona Public Service, the principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp, is Arizona's largest electric utility, serving nearly 1.2 million customers in 11 of the state's 15 counties and elsewhere in the southwest, according to its website.
APS bought Units 4 and 5 of the Four Corners Power Plant in New Mexico in 2013, the website says.
The placement of the devices comes a day after explosions in a mailbox and trash receptacle outside two churches in the southern part of the state, a few hours' drive away, though no injuries were reported.
Investigators were working to determine whether the two incidents were linked.
(Reporting by Joseph J. Kolb; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Eric Beech)