Local

‘Suspicious package’ prompts precautions at city, county buildings

McClatchy

Patrons and staff were ushered from the children’s section of the Bellingham Public Library for less than an hour Tuesday afternoon as police investigated an item that resembled an explosive device.

“It was just a suspicious package,” said Lt. Danette Beckley of the Bellingham Police Department.

Beckley said the package was noticed about 2:20 p.m. near the fountain outside the children’s section on the north side behind the building at 210 Central Avenue.

No arrest was made, but police said the package had “unique properties” that warranted further investigation.

It was “an ice cooler with wires sticking out,” Beckley said, adding staff and patrons were removed from the library’s lower level, which houses the children’s collection, restrooms and meeting areas. About five families were using the children’s section at the time, said Bethany Hoglund, head of children’s services.

“We alerted the HDU Team,” Beckley said, using the acronym for the bomb squad, which is officially called the Hazardous Devices Unit. “They were on their way, but the owner of the package came and picked it up.”

An “all clear” was given shortly after 3 p.m. Hoglund said patrons were able to return after no more than 15 minutes.

It’s standard practice among police and fire agencies to cordon off an area while a possibly hazardous material or device is being investigated.

“Public Works was called for road closures and the following buildings were contacted in order to advise them of the possible threat: the (Bellingham) Public Library; the (Whatcom) County Courthouse and City Hall,” said Bellingham Police Lt. Don Almer.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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