RICHMOND -- An evacuation order at the Social Security building on Nevin Avenue in Richmond was lifted Friday afternoon after a bomb squad determined a suspicious postal package in an X-ray machine was filled with flashlights and batteries, officials said.

Employees at the building at 1211 Nevin Ave. left the package, a cardboard box postmarked from China, inside the X-ray machine in the building's lobby after they noticed questionable contents inside, Richmond Fire Chief Michael Banks said.

Richmond police, fire officials and the UC Berkeley bomb squad responded to the building about 10:30 a.m. and quickly issued an evacuation order.

"It looks like there was wiring of some sort inside the box, and that sparked suspicion it may have been more than just a package," Banks said.

According to Banks, all of the building's mail is usually screened in an X-ray machine in the mail room, but that machine is not currently functioning. Instead, all packages were brought up to a second machine in the lobby, where a larger number of people are typically present.

The Social Security building, open for business Friday despite the government shutdown, was evacuated for three hours while the bomb squad investigated the contents of the package and determined they were not a threat. The building reopened to the public about 1:30 p.m.


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Contact Erin Ivie at eivie@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/erin_ivie.