By JESSE BURKHARDT
A suspicious bag behind one of Insitu's administrative buildings in Bingen led to the closure of two city blocks for several hours on Tuesday morning.
A Portland Police Department bomb squad was called in to assist with determining whether the package was an explosive device, and no explosives were found.
"A suspicious package was discovered," explained Bingen-White Salmon Police Chief Bruce Brending. "Following protocols, we called the Portland Police Department Bomb Squad for mutual aid. The bomb squad rendered the package safe, and the investigation is ongoing. No explosive device was found."
The bag was discovered by an Insitu employee outside the building at the intersection of State Route 14 and State Route 141 (Steuben and Oak) at about 8:40 a.m., and the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department was notified.
Chief Brending was first to respond to the scene.
The object of suspicion was a long canvas black bag with duct tape around it. It was leaning against the rear of the Insitu building, across the parking lot from First Independent Bank.
"Bruce made the decision that he was not comfortable touching it," explained Tara Stewart, facilities security officer for Insitu. "We're not taking any chances."
Brending evacuated the Insitu building and the bank. Yellow tape was placed around a two-block area, and vehicles were used to block off Oak Street to traffic.
Officers from the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Klickitat County Sheriff's Office, Skamania County Sheriff's Office, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Washington Department of Transportation, the Bingen Fire Department, and Bingen's Public Works Department also responded to the scene.
The bomb squad from Portland arrived in Bingen at about 10:50 a.m. The technicians employed a robotic device to inspect the bag to determine what was inside.
In a safety precaution, traffic on SR 14 was briefly halted while the robotic equipment moved the bag.
The incident ended at around 12:50 p.m., more than four hours after the bag was discovered.