Powder Prompts Building Evacuation

A suspicious white powder launched a hazmat response at not one, but two locations in the Murphy Canyon area.

A letter arrived to a Kaiser service center at 3840 Murphy Canyon Road Monday morning. According to San Diego Fire Department spokesperson Maurice Luque, an employee opened the letter and noticed white powder coming from inside the letter. She called for help at around 12:30 p.m.

The woman told firefighters the powder burned her arm. Four other employees complained of breathing problems.

SDFD’s hazmat team evacuated the Murphy Canyon building and checked other employees to ensure there is no threat to anyone. Police cruisers parked in front of the building and taped off the parking lot. Hazmat crews went inside and searched the mail room for the letter and the powder.

According to Luque, at least two people were transported in a private car to Kaiser Hospital-Zion for evaluation. Because the people believed to be exposed weren't transported by emergency crews, hazmat teams were also sent to the hospital site to check for possible contamination.

At the Kaiser Hospital-Zion location, hazmat team members suited up in the parking lot in front of the hospital.  A total of 25 people were quarantined at the hospital during the investigation.

Both the building and the hospital have been reopened. Firefighters haven't found the substance or the envelope to perform tests. They may need to try pulling some of the substance off of the employee's clothes.

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