Despite evacuation, letters sent to Flake's office not harmful

April 17, 2013

The Postal Inspection Service says tests of suspicious mail sent to the Phoenix office of U.S. Senator Jeff Flake have found nothing dangerous or harmful.

Authorities evacuated part of the building this morning after staff for the Republican senator came across mail that was stained with an oily substance. But Keith Moore of the Postal Inspection Service says a letter was tested and found to be harmless.

The situation came a day after authorities said a letter containing ricin was mailed to the office of a Mississippi senator. The Secret Service also says it has intercepted a letter addressed to President Barack Obama that contained a substance that tested positive for the poison ricin.

The discovery of the two suspicious letters prompted officials to evacuate part of the building near 22nd Street and Camelback. Aspokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Arizona, says Flake's office called authorities this morning after the senator's staff came across two suspicious letters. The oily substance was believed to have caused irritation to the eyes and noses of two Flake staffers and a Phoenix police officer who responded to the scene. The spokesman says he doesn't believe the letters had been opened.

Emergency crews in hazardous materials gear rushed to the scene and cleared out parts of the building. At Senator John McCain's office across the street, staff was told to be on the lookout for anything suspicious.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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