3rd package ignites at Washington postal facility
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Last Updated: Saturday, January 08, 2011, 18:32
Washington: A package an official said was addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ignited at a Washington postal facility, a day after fiery packages sent to Maryland's governor and transportation secretary burned the fingers of workers who opened them.

Authorities were bracing for more packages to surface.

"Right now we don't have any other packages, but we're not taking anything for granted," DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier said.

Initial information indicated the parcel that ignited in northeast Washington about 2:45 pm was similar to the packages opened Thursday in Maryland, a state adjacent to the national capital, authorities said.

The Washington postal facility was evacuated after an employee discovered a parcel that looked similar to the Maryland mailings, authorities said yesterday. No injuries were reported.

The Maryland packages contained a note railing against highway signs urging motorists to report suspicious activity, investigators revealed.

The message read: "Report suspicious activity! Total Bull----! You have created a self fulfilling prophecy."

At the DC facility, which primarily handles mail for the federal government in Washington, workers are not allowed to open packages, postal inspector Frank Schissler said, so it's unclear exactly how the parcel ignited.

The package was "popping, smoking and there was a brief flash of fire," Lanier said; that was very similar to what authorities described in Maryland.

The labels, postmark and stamps also were similar to the Maryland parcels, Postal Service spokeswoman Joanne Veto said.

The DC package that ignited was addressed to Napolitano, according to a Homeland Security Department official who spoke yesterday on condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing. The postal facility is not near downtown or the U S Capitol.

The earlier packages, addressed to Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and to Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley, have been taken to the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, for forensic analysis. They contained no explosive material.

They were opened within a 15-minute period Thursday at state government buildings 20 miles apart.

The workers who opened the packages singed their fingers, but no significant injuries were reported. Mailroom employees were back at work yesterday, and they had pictures of the packages and were advised to be vigilant about anything suspicious.


First Published: Saturday, January 08, 2011, 18:32

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