Suspicious powder closes Pine County offices

  • Article by: JOY POWELL
  • Updated: November 19, 2013 - 9:05 PM

Six envelopes with a white powder inside were mailed to offices in the Pine City building, prompting the evacuation of 200 people.

 

Authorities evacuated about 200 people and closed the Pine County Government Center Tuesday afternoon after workers discovered six envelopes filled with a suspicious white powder in the mail.

The envelopes were mailed to various departments, sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.

“We’re still waiting to get confirmation on what it was,” Chief Deputy Steven Blackwell said. He and other officials hope to learn overnight so they can notify people on the county’s website and via local media if the government center will be open Wednesday morning.

About 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, a worker in the District Court office opened a standard business-size envelope, saw white powder and dropped it, Blackwell said.

The six envelopes, with typed addresses, were isolated to two locations in the Government Center, and employees and visitors were evacuated.

The St. Paul Fire Department’s hazmat team is working to determine what the substance is, Blackwell said.

His department hadn’t yet looked into whether this incident might be linked to a similar one in St. Paul, where a suspicious powder forced the closing of a downtown St. Paul block and part of the City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse on Oct. 30. It turned out to be a harmless, inert substance, possibly related to yeast.

In neither the Ramsey nor Pine County case was there a letter or indication of a threat.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Pine County Sheriff’s Office at 320-629-8380.

 

Joy Powell • 612-673-7750

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