Suspicious package prompts evacuations in Burlington - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Suspicious package prompts evacuations in Burlington

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

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.

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