HAZMAT situation at Frederick hospital over, residents exposed to 'common household substance'

A possible HAZMAT situation at Frederick Memorial Hospital is over, and authorities say two residents who reported they suffered from burns and respiratory issues after opening a suspicious package were exposed to a "common household substance."

There is no danger to residents, hospital employees or the community, authorities said just before 3 p.m. Tuesday.

The situation also forced the closure of a portion Military Road, where the two men live and first opened the package. Lt. Clark Pennington, commander of the Criminal Investigations Unit of the Frederick Police Department, said the two men came in around noon. They were suffering from burns and having difficulty breathing after receiving a package in the mail-- which they brought with them to the hospital.

Pennington said police and fire crews were called, and the situation was treated as a HAZMAT while crews worked to make sure that whatever was inside the package was safe and didn't cause any danger to anyone else.

"We know that the condition of the patients did not get any worse," said Melissa Lambdin, spokesperson for Frederick Memorial Hospital. "They have been treated and we know that the nurse who stayed with them and treated them did not have any problems, any issues."

FOX 5's Paul Wagner was at Frederick Memorial Hospital, where the main entrance was roped off and a decontamination tent was set up near the emergency room.

Lambdin said normal operations had resumed at the hospital. The emergency room did not accept new patients while HAZMAT crews were at work, and ambulances carrying new patients were temporarily diverted to other hospitals until the situation was resolved.

Investigators also checked out the residents' home on Military Road, where the package was received, making sure that other residents and the neighborhood are safe. After making forced entry into the house, authorities said nothing suspicious was found at the home where the package was originally opened.

The home where the package was received is near Fort Detrick, but authorities said the residents were not members of the military.

Frederick police are trying to determine why the package was sent to the home.

"That's part of the investigation," said Lt. Pennington. "At this point, we are going to do further interviews with them to try to determine if there was any criminality, and also to get more understanding on what they believe happened to them."