Hazmat team responding to mysterious substance found at Ellsworth bank

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ELLSWORTH — The Ellsworth Fire Department responded shortly before 11 a.m. Thursday to a report of a hazardous material incident at the Bar Harbor Bank and Trust operations building off Avery Lane.

An employee was opening an envelope and found powder inside, according to Ellsworth Deputy Fire Chief Richard Tupper. The employee, who was not identified, said she felt a burning sensation on her hand and as a precaution went to Maine Coast Memorial Hospital for treatment, according to Tupper.

He estimated there were about 40 people, all employees, inside the processing facility at the time. The fire department evacuated the building and as a precaution separated employees into two groups, with one containing those workers who were close to where the envelope was opened.

Tupper said rescue personnel were monitoring the employees to make sure no one else was affected by the powder.

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“We want to monitor them. This is all precautionary,” he said. At this point, officials believe there was only one envelope involved and no one is making any assumptions about what the substance might be.

Members of the Orono-Old Town Hazardous Materials Team arrived at about 12:45 p.m. to try to identify the substance.

Tupper said officials do not believe there is any danger to anyone else nearby. There are few

buildings on Avery Lane and Lowe’s is located several hundred feet away, but no one else has been evacuated.

Employees remain on the grounds inside an area cordoned off with caution tape. Some are in the parking lot and others are about 100 feet away at a picnic table outside the building. Reporters are not allowed inside the taped-off area.

“We want to keep them all in one location until we know what we are dealing with,” Tupper said.

Firefighters set up a decontamination area outside the building in preparation for the hazmat team’s arrival.

One fire truck, one ambulance, several utility and police vehicles are on scene.

Reprinted with permission from the Bangor Daily News.

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