CENTER CITY (WPVI) --A suspicious item that was spotted in front of a firehouse, and blown up by the bomb squad, was one of more than a dozen pipes that fell from a construction vehicle, officials say.
Chopper 6 was over the scene in the 2100 block of Market Street just before 3 p.m. Friday.
"A PVC pipe that was wrapped on both sides with duct tape, obviously suspicious to be in front of a fire house," said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan.
The firehouse was evacuated, others in nearby buildings told to shelter in place. Traffic in the area was cordoned off as bomb experts moved in to determine what exactly this was.
Chopper 6 was over the scene as a technician in an olive-drab bomb suit and helmet examined the suspicious-looking device. Shortly after, they blew it up.
"We were unable visually to clear the item so we did hit it with a disrupter to determine it was empty. There was nothing inside," said Sullivan.
The item was deemed harmless, but soon other calls started coming in of similar pipes being found along 22nd Street from Market to South Street.
An investigation by Central Detectives determined the items in question had rolled off the back of a Madison Concrete Construction truck that was ultimately located at a construction site at 16th and Vine.
"This was an honest mistake, but it caused an awful lot of disruption, and more than a little bit of panic today," said Sullivan.
The response gives rise to the times we are living in. And in the wake of the terror bombing attacks in New York and New Jersey, the Philadelphia Bomb Squad and Counter-Terrorism units have been responding to an increase in calls about suspicious items.
"There's been a significant increase, but you know what, we're happy about that. We're happy to see that people are obviously being quite vigilant and they're becoming actively involved in the process of keeping the city safe, and that's a good thing," said Sullivan.
Police say they still have not accounted for all of the 17 pipes that scattered along the road ways in Center City.
If you see one, you are asked to call police, but don't become overly alarmed.
The driver of the truck is going to be cited for failing to properly secure his cargo.