UPDATE, 10 a.m., Monday, Oct. 22: The suspicious “hissing” package investigated at the downtown Kirkland Post Office Monday morning appears to have been only a leaking SCUBA tank, according to authorities.
"It was a SCUBA bottle," said Kirkland Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Haschak. "We were concerned it could have been an explosive device or hazardous materials. We evacuated the building and cordoned off the location."
The owner's name was on the package, and he was called, informing a hazardous materials crew that the package contained two compressed air tanks. "Our stress level came way down at that point," said Haschak.
One of the two tanks was leaking. Haschak noted that it is likely against postal regulations to ship compressed gas tanks, or take them on commercial airlines. He urged citizens to check regulations before shipping any such devices or anything similar. "The tops of those things can get knocked off, potentially launching them like a missile," he said.
The City of Kirkland issued the following press release at 10:25 a.m. Monday:
Kirkland, Wash. – Kirkland Fire and Police established a joint command to respond to a report of a suspicious package at the Kirkland Post Office this morning around 8:30 a.m. The 9-1-1 call came from a Post Office employee handling the package. The employee reported the box was hissing and releasing gas. The Kirkland and Bellevue Fire Departments responded to a hazardous materials (Haz Mat) incident. Police and Fire quickly evacuated the Post Office and a nearby apartment complex. As a precaution, all roadways leading to the Post Office were closed during the incident. The owner of the package was contacted and identified the contents as scuba equipment. The contents were verified by the Fire Department Haz Mat Team. No injuries or property damage occurred. The Fire and Police Departments appreciate the cooperation of those involved and impacted by this incident.
Kirkland firefighters and police evacuated the downtown Kirkland Post Office Monday morning while a hazardous materials team investigated a suspicious package.
Details were few, but most employees of the post office were gathered in a parking lot across 5th Avenue, where authorities had established a command center. A hazardous materials truck was also on the site.
One employee of the post office, which is at 721 4th Avenue, said they had all been evacuated after a hissing package was found. “They told us to evacuate because there was a suspicious package sitting there hissing,” he said.
Police were turning away pedestrians heading to the post office, telling them there was a suspicious package being investigated.
Kirkland Patch will update this story as soon as details become available.