Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Suspicious Package Results In A Hazmat Response

On Wednesday, August 24, 2011, at 3:31pm, Lakeside firefighters from Blossom Valley station 26 were dispatched to investigate a report of a suspicious package containing unknown chemicals. Upon arrival at the Chocolate Summit Drive residence, the homeowner stated that an unexpected package was found at their front gate. The small cardboard box was marked with hazardous warning markings and lacked any shipping information to indicate its origin, intended destination, or exact contents.

Multi-Agency Hazmat Response
Sensing that something was not right, the homeowner left the package in place and called 911. After a cautious visualization by fire personnel, the package markings and incident situation was reported to the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health Hazardous Incident Response Team (DEH-HIRT) for consultation. The scene was secured and a safe perimeter was established.  Due to the circumstance and limited available information, it was decided that a full Hazmat response was indicated. This response included units from San Diego County and City Hazmat teams along with the San Diego Sheriff Bomb Squad.

Sheriff Bomb Squad with portable X-Ray equipment

A plan was developed with input from all agencies involved. Initially, Sheriff Bomb Squad personnel were sent in with portable x-ray equipment to determine if any evidence of an explosive device was present. The x-ray was then analyzed and no explosive device indicators were detected. San Diego City Hazmat-1 personnel were then sent in wearing level-B exposure suits to open the package and inspect its contents.

San Diego City Hazmat-1 personnel

Hazmat personnel discovered a two-part industrial adhesive inside which was properly packaged in accordance with hazardous materials transport regulations and deemed not to be a hazard. The box and contents, which included indications as to its origin, were removed from the scene by County Hazmat and an investigation into its intended destination will be conducted.

In this incident, the package turned out to be safe and harmless in its proper containers. However, the homeowner acted absolutely appropriately when faced with the unknown nature of the situation. Remember, if something doesn't seem right to you, treat it with caution and be on the safe side.

Submitted By: Chuck Palmore, Lakeside Fire Captain
Photos By: Robert Williams, Lakeside Fire Engineer

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