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UPDATE: Investigators Still Working to Identify Substance Found Inside Suspicious Bag

UPDATE: Investigators Still Working to Identify Substance Found Inside Suspicious Bag

September 19, 2018 12:53 PM

(ABC 6 News) - UPDATE: Officials are still working to identify the mystery substance found inside four bags found along a road in Austin on Tuesday.

Around 9:45 a.m. police and fire officials were called to the eastbound entrance ramp to I-90 at 14th street in Austin where a mysterious bag was smoldering in the ditch.

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Investigators described the bag as about 12 inches long and 5 inches wide, made of a quilt-like material with a drawstring on one end. Three similar bags were found nearby.

Austin Fire Chief Jim McCoy said the bag was smoldering despite the rain, and when firefighters attempted to spray water on the bag there was a “pop”, and the bag flamed up.

Dry chemicals also failed to stop the bag from smoldering but when the contents, described as a gray powder that looked like ashes, were emptied from the bag, the smoldering stopped.

The Rochester Chemical Assessment team and personnel from the Minnesota National Guard’s 55th Civil Support Team also responded to the scene and removed it from the scene on Tuesday night.

Fire Chief Jim McCoy said tests conducted on the material have caused investigators to rule out radiation, biological or chemical agents, nitrates or phosphorous. But, at this point, they still don’t know what it is.

Investigators said a person who came into contact with the material before emergency personnel arrived has not shown any concerning signs or symptoms.

An environmental clean-up company is doing additional tests to try to determine what the gray substance is and how to best dispose of it.

Anyone with information about the material is asked to contact Law Enforcement.

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Previous story:

Fire crews from both Austin and Rochester responded this morning to the report of an abandoned bag containing a suspicious gray powder near 14th Street Northwest and Interstate 90 in Austin.

The drawstring bag was smoldering, an official said, but couldn't be extinguished, prompting the call for a HAZMAT team.

Authorities closed the eastbound ramp to I-90 and routed traffic away from the area.

There were no injuries, and the scene was cleared about 90 minutes after the incident began.

No other information is available.

KAAL-TV

Copyright 2018 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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