Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2007

Smelly bait incites gas leak scare

June 14, 2007

Rotting fish bait caused concern of gas leak Sunday evening at the Eudora Post Office.

At about 9 p.m., Eudora City Fire Chief Randy Ates heard two separate reports of a strong smell near the building at 709 Main St.

The smell was obvious when firefighters arrived at the scene, Ates said.

"It wasn't a gas smell, but whatever it was it smelled horrid," Ates said. " We did a quick search with what limited access we had."

Firefighters shut off gas from the post office and two neighboring buildings as a precaution.

"Being that it's a federal building and it didn't quite smell like gas, I was concerned with what it could be," Ates said.

Representatives from Atmos Energy found no evidence of a gas leak.

The fire department continued to search for obvious causes before making the decision whether to call in a hazardous materials team, Ates said. No hazmat team was called.

After gaining access to the office and searching through trash, firefighters found four tubs of fish bait dumped in a plastic bag.

"We were so relieved it was that and not a hazardous material or poison or a disgruntled person mailing something that didn't need to go into the mail," Ates said.

Both the fire department and the Eudora City Police Department diverted traffic from Main Street during the investigation.

The situation could have been much worse if it happened at a different time, Ates said.

"At 1 o'clock on a weekday afternoon this would have been a lot more difficult to contain and a lot more difficult to handle to keep people away for their own safety," Ates said.

Eudora Postmaster Georgia Brown said someone could have cleaned out their car before completing business in the post office.

"People there throw the wrong things away in a public trash can and inconvenience others," Brown said.

The fact the fire call dealt with an unknown substance forced the department to look at the situation carefully, Ates aid.

Ten years ago, the department wouldn't have had to worry about someone mailing a package of poison or commit an act of terrorism, Ates said.

"In this day and age, it's something you have to consider."

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