A suspicious package at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel in Washington caused the D.C. Fire Department to block off the 1700 block of M Street, N.W., this afternoon for about thirty minutes. Fire department officials later deemed it a false alarm.
“We had a package come in that set off alarm bells for our mailroom personnel,” said Ann O’Hanlon, spokeswoman for the Office of Special Counsel.
O'Hanlon didn't say exactly who the package was addressed to, nor was she able to provide other details about it.
Four fire trucks, as well as officials from the Department of Homeland Security, responded to the call. Nearby office workers gathered on the street and peered down from their office perches above. Authorities outfitted a man in a silver suit and set up a small kiddy pool in the street, in case firefighters needed to decontaminate anyone contaminated by the package's contents.
The property manager for 1730 M Street N.W. sent out an email to building tenants advising them of the situation. The building was not evacuated. At 3:20 p.m., firemen entered the building to investigate. They left minutes later after determining that the package was safe.
“We are sorry to have caused a commotion on M Street, but all is well,” O’Hanlon said.
The Office of Special Counsel is an independent, federal investigative and prosecutorial agency that, according to its Web site, protects federal employees and job applicants from "prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing."