Update: Fire marshal’s office determines source of post office evacuation

The Hampton Police Department, assisted by several area agencies, closed down a two block area around the Hampton Post Office for approximately two hours on Monday afternoon following a 911 report of a suspicious item found in the Post Office lobby. TRAVIS FISCHER/HAMPTON CHRONICLE

Officials say a kitchen timer was the source of an incident that led to the evacuation of the Hampton Post Office and the surrounding area Monday.

Ron Humphrey, Special Agent of the Arson and Explosives Bureau with the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office, said the timer, which had a dial timer and a bell, was left on a counter in the post office. Humphrey said an employee with the post office saw the item and contacted 9-1-1, as the item appeared to be suspicious.

Humphrey said the timer appeared to have been left at the post office on accident, but said the caller was vigilant to report it. “It’s better to be safe than sorry,” he said. Humphrey added that no note or sign of intent was left with the timer.

After the call was received at 1:17 p.m. Monday afternoon, law enforcement officials evacuated the post office and a one-block area surrounding the post office, including the Franklin County Courthouse. Traffic on Highway 3 was rerouted from Second Street NW through Highway 65.

Citizens outside were asked to stay at least two blocks away from the post office. Emergency responders determined the scene was safe at approximately 3:15 p.m. and allowed residents to return to their homes.

Humphrey said the fire marshal’s office has ended its investigation.