Hundreds of employees in
Burlington spent their Thursday morning on the lawn. They were evacuated from
their Lakeside Avenue office building after a suspicious package was delivered
to the mailroom. Authorities say the letter was sent to the Internal
Revenue Service, which has
an office in the building. A mailroom employee told police the envelope
appeared to contain a suspicious granular substance.
"We have the
training, capability and equipment to go in and open these things up and
determine that they are safe or potentially not safe," said Chris Herrick,
the Vt. Hazmat chief.
Turns out this package was
not dangerous at all. The culprit behind the scare? A dirty check.
"Somebody received a
check in error it appears, and they found it on the ground and it had mud on
it. They tore it up, put in the envelope with another letter saying: found this
check and I'm sending it back," Herrick said.
"So, there was a
granular substance inside the envelope, but it turned out to be soil,"
Burlington Police Lt. Art Cyr said.
Hazmat estimates this
response will cost the team approximately $500-$600. But the chief says it's
money well spent.
"We want to make sure
we're responding with all due regard to safety," Herrick said.
During these responses
each agency plays a role. On Thursday, fire officials secured the scene, hazmat
tested the letter and police traced its return address.
"We bring different
elements together," Herrick said. "We do that; we can solve these
problems fairly quickly."
In the wake of national
events, these are problems authorities say they must take seriously. Every
false alarm is an opportunity to learn.