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Powder forces evac of North Bay post office, hazmat team called in

First floor of the Ferguson Street building cleared
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Firefighters are at the main North Bay post office on Ferguson St. investigating a suspicious substance that caused the evacuation of the first floor of the building.

The call came in at 8:15 this morning.

A source told BayToday that a postal worker was handling a parcel in the processing centre when it was dropped and an unknown white powdery substance was emitted.

The fire department was called and the office evacuated. No-one is being let in at this point and there is no risk to the public.

"We established our Hazmat Team, which is entering the building for a second time to pick the package up," said Fire Chief Jason Whiteley. "We're going to use some identification tools to try and determine what we are actually dealing with. The city has bought a special machine to deal with these sorts of things so we're going to be collecting samples, securing the package and then analyzing with this machine to give us an indication of exactly what we are dealing with. It could be talcum powder for all we know. We're taking all the necessary precautions."

Whiteley says it's not a large package but it doesn't take much to be deadly. Firefighters entered once to assess the situation, then entered a second time to triple wrap the parcel then remove it.

Whiteley says unlike a fire, they take a slow, cautious approach to the incident.

"In this case, it's not spreading anywhere, it's contained so we have the luxury of taking our time, equipping our people to go in and deal with the situation.

A city bus was called in to house the 40 workers from the cold. No word yet on the condition of the worker that was involved with the package.

The North Bay Fire Department is one of just six hazmat teams in the province that can be dispatched anywhere in the Ontario when needed or requested.

See related: Highway remains closed (North Bay fire department called to scene of hazardous material accident)




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Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with BayToday.ca since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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