Sarin scare at Facebook mail facility in Menlo Park

Firefighters on the Peninsula responded on Monday to a hazardous materials call at a Facebook mail facility.

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District said a call came in just before 11 a.m. at 1195 Hamilton Court in Menlo Park. This facility is a few blocks away from the main Facebook campus.

Hazmat specialists from the California National Guard's 95th Civil Support Team were called in to assess a suspicious package shipped to the Facebook facility.

Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said sensoring technology used to inspect material at the site indicated the package might contain sarin.

"They specialize specifically in chemical, biological and radiological detection," Schapelhouman said. "We're not saying there's anything there, but out of abundance of caution, this is the right group to bring in to make sure there isn't a problem."

FBI San Francisco was also on scene at the request of the San Mateo Hazmat team.

Facebook spokesman Anthony Harrison said in a statement that earlier on Monday morning, a package sent to one of its mail rooms was deemed suspicious and the company evacuated four buildings as a precaution.

As of 4:00 p.m., authorities had not yet identified the substance, but three of the evacuated buildings have been cleared for repopulation.

"We need to go in and actually test the product and verify whether there's any concern or not," Menlo Park Fire Marshall John Johnston said. "Then based on those test results we'll determine the action."

Sarin is a chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent, according to the CDC. The colorless, odorless liquid can also evaporate into a gas and spread throughout the environment. Symptoms can be as minor as drowsiness and cough to paralysis or even death.

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Bay City News contributed to this report.