Firefighters respond to a report of an incendiary package at the Maryland Department of Transportation headquarters in Hanover on Jan. 6.
Firefighters sit outside of the Maryland Department of Transportation building after a package exploded earlier in the day.
HANOVER, Md. --
State and federal officials were investigating small incendiary devices that "flared up" at the Maryland Department of Transportation's headquarters in Hanover and a state government building in Annapolis on Thursday.
Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley said two packages flared up, one at the Jeffrey Public Safety Building on Francis Street in Annapolis at about 12:30 p.m. and one at the MDOT building about 20 minutes later. Firefighters and hazmat crews were called to investigate.
Shipley said during a news conference that a small fire, smoke and a strange sulfur smell started coming out of the packages when they were opened. He said all state office mail rooms have been quarantined to determine if any other packages had been sent.
Gov. Martin O'Malley told 11 News that the packages were the size of a book. O'Malley said one package was addressed to him, and the other was addressed to the state transportation secretary. He said his staff immediately notified state government offices so they could take appropriate precautions.
"We live in times where we all have to be on alert and aware," the governor said. "The ability to mail anything to anyone, the ability to travel -- all of those things are sources of vulnerability, especially if people want to turn them into weapons or use that openness to try to harm others. So, that's the world we're living in, and we need to be vigilant and aware."
State police said one person reported suffering singed fingers in the Annapolis incident. A robot was brought in to search the building.
Sky Team 11 Capt. Roy Taylor reported shortly after 1 p.m. that at the MDOT building, most workers were allowed to leave except for those on the fourth floor, which is where the package was opened.
Taylor said eight people reported having problems, four of whom were taken to local hospitals for precautionary reasons -- not because they had physical injuries. The other four refused treatment.
At about 4:30 p.m., emergency crews allowed the MDOT building to reopen and the employees were allowed to go back inside for their belongings.
The Maryland State Police have taken the lead on the investigation. The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Joint Terrorism Task Force are working with state and local officials.
State Fire Marshal William Barnard said no explosive materials have been found so far. He said the packages will be sent to the forensics division for further examination.
"There were no explosives in either package. There was an indication that it was some sort of an incendiary device, so when the package was opened, that initiated that incendiary action," Barnard said.
He said the packages appeared to have come through the U.S. Postal Service and that the postal inspector has been notified.
A source told 11 News I-Team lead investigative reporter Jayne Miller that one of the packages had a note inside. The source said it was an unremarkable note but clearly suggested it was sent by someone disgruntled and not from someone who was part of a larger terrorist plot.
In Annapolis, resident John Koontz, who was on Francis Street when the situation began, told 11 News early on that the street was completely closed off and that only emergency crews and a bomb squad were going in and out of the Jeffrey Building.
Koontz said some people were evacuated from the building. Shipley said those people were allowed back in the building by 3 p.m.
Meanwhile, a major area of Baltimore was closed down at the start of rush hour Thursday afternoon after the city's state office complex was sealed off to investigate another suspicious package.
Miller reported that the Police Department's hazardous device unit was called to the complex to investigate a suspicious package at 201 W. Preston St.
By 6:30 p.m., police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the report was unfounded. He said the package was filled with batteries.
"We had an opportunity to check with our mail room staff and to ask if there were any unusual, out-of-the-ordinary packages that might have aroused their attention, and in fact there was one," said Deputy Health Secretary Fran Phillips.
Phillips told 11 News that the mail room staff was asked to leave so authorities could do an assessment of the package. She said no devices had gone off, and they were just using "an abundance of caution" to make sure what's there isn't harmful.
Employees told 11 News that they were evacuated shortly before 4 p.m. Miller reported that bomb squads and K-9 units were also called.
The state fire marshal said so far, there's no indication that the case in Baltimore is connected to the packages in Anne Arundel County.
A section of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard westbound was closed where it meets Howard Street shortly before 4 p.m. because of the ongoing investigation.
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