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BREWER, Maine — Brewer police evacuated the offices of the Brewer Housing Authority and several nearby apartment buildings Thursday afternoon after a suspicious device was found on housing authority property, Brewer Police Capt. Christopher Martin confirmed.
The device, which was found shortly before 2 p.m., was discovered by a housing authority employee, who brought it to the director’s office. The director then called police.
Martin said the device was “just curious enough” to call in the Bangor Police Department’s bomb squad.
Gordon Stitham, director of the housing authority, said the device consisted of firecrackers, an electronic component of some sort and a light powdery substance in a small plastic pill bottle.
“It’s kind of weird,” he said, adding that he has never experienced such an event in his 25 years with the housing authority.
Stitham said about 50 tenants and 16 housing authority employees were evacuated as a precaution. Some tenants who live in the buildings closest to Chamberlain Street were allowed back into their apartments around 3 p.m.
The Bangor bomb squad removed the device from Stitham’s office around 3:45 p.m., Brewer Deputy Police Chief Jason Moffitt said. He said the device will undergo analysis by Bangor explosives experts.
“They’re going to examine it further so we’re still in a holding pattern,” Moffitt said.
Whether the device posed a threat remained undetermined on Thursday.
“I really couldn’t tell you one way or another,” Martin said after the incident, adding, “They were concerned enough about it that they took the device with them. I don’t know how harmful it is, what the potential [for danger] is. I won’t know until they conclude their work.”
“Everybody was very cooperative and unfortunately it happened on a hot day like this. We have a number of elderly people here who were quite hot.
Because of temperatures that were in the mid-80s Thursday, several ambulances and wheelchair-accessible vans were brought to the housing authority’s offices on Chamberlain Street to help tenants stay cool, Chuck McMahan, chief operating officer of Capital Ambulance, said at the scene. About 20 people were treated, he said.
McMahan said the ambulance service also borrowed wheelchairs to help tenants with limited mobility.
In addition, the housing authority provided water to those who had to evacuate, Martin said.