SUSPICIOUS POWDER CLOSES PORTION OF LINCOLN PARK NEIGHBORHOOD
Tuesday, December 24, 2002, 2:15 p.m.
By BRANDON LOOMIS
Associated Press Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Reports of a suspicious white powdered substance caused police and firefighters to close down a five-square-block area of the north side and evacuate the Lincoln Park Zoo Tuesday.
But the substance turned out to be a harmless flour or similar powder used to mark a jogging course, the city’s fire commissioner said.
More than 100 police officers and firefighters, some wearing special suits to deal with hazardous materials, were called into the area.
Streets were blocked off. Several entrances and exits to Lake Shore Drive, one of the principal highways in the city, were closed. The public was warned by authorities to stay away.
Field testing equipment gave readings indicating that the substance “could be anything in the anthrax areas,” said Fire Commissioner James Joyce.
“But they were false positives,” he added.
“It’s a completely inert substance,” Joyce said at a news conference. “It’s scattered over a three- or four-block area.” Members of a running club had used the powder to paint arrows to show the runners were to go, he said.
Asked if, in the current security atmosphere, people should be putting flour on the ground to mark things, Joyce said, “How about red flour?” Then he added, “This will alert them that they need to think about what they are doing.”
“We’re satisfied with the results,” Joyce added. “We do what we have to do. We respond and protect the citizens.”
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
More on the story…
The Lincoln Park Zoo grounds were reopened after being closed during the hazardous materials alert, according to a news release from the zoo.
All the buildings, however, will remain closed Tuesday, the release said.
The zoo will reopen for business as usual Wednesday morning, with both the grounds and animal houses open to the public, according to the release. All fire personnel had left the scene by 1:45 p.m., and all roads had been re opened.
The area closed to traffic by the police and fire activity Tuesday afternoon included the perimeters Fullerton to North avenues, and Lincoln Park West to Lake Shore Drive. As of noon this also included the ramps from LSD to North Avenue and Fullerton, as well as northbound Clark Street at Armitage Avenue, Cannon Drive and Stockton Drive, according to the City Department of Transportation.
Emergency workers first responded to the park at 9:22 a.m., with the Level 1 Hazmat upgraded to a Level 2 response at 10:39 a.m. and a Level 3 response at 11 :29 a.m., said fire media Chief Dennis Gault.
“We received a call from the police department relative to a suspicious substance at the Lincoln Park Zoo,” Gault said of the original report.