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Suspicious Powder Prompts Evacuations in Santa Maria

A County Fire hazmat crew and other emergency personnel respond after an office worker reportedly opens an envelope containing the substance

Evacuated employees wait in the parking lot near the Workforce Resource Center in Santa Maria after a hazmat incident on Friday.
Evacuated employees wait in the parking lot near the Workforce Resource Center in Santa Maria after a hazmat incident on Friday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Some offices and buildings in Santa Maria were evacuated on Friday after an office worker opened an envelope and discovered a suspicious white powder inside.

A Santa Barbara County Fire Department hazmat crew was called to the shopping center in the 1300 and 1400 blocks of South Broadway just before noon.

“Right now, we’ve evacuated the building. We’ve called in county hazmat and they’re going to do an investigation to try and determine if the powder’s hazardous or not,” said Acting Battalion Chief Mike Farmer of the Santa Maria Fire Department. “When they opened the envelope, there was a white powder that came out of it, It was wrapped in some foil so they’re investigating that.”

In-Shap gym and Santa Barbara County Workforce Resource Center were evacuated for a couple of hours as a precaution.

The Santa Maria Fire Department, the Santa Maria Police Department and American Medical Response crews responded to the incident in addition to the hazmat crew.

The employees who were near the envelope were checked by medics as a precaution but did not become ill.

“They seem to be fine,” Farmer said.

Evacuated employees gathered in the parking lot, where supervisors brought in pizza for the workers who sat under trees and canopies set up for shade while they waited for approval to return to their offices.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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