The safe; the vial of gas. (Amesbury Fire Department)
AMESBURY, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Barbara Lorenc bought an old mill building on Chestnut Street in Amesbury, which came complete with a 5'-by-4' safe.
"We couldn't figure out how to get rid of it," Lorenc said. "We were trying to open it to see if there might have been buried treasure in there, something that people had left behind, jewels."
She told WBZ NewsRadio's Doug Cope she couldn't get ahold of a safecracker, so she had construction workers start taking it apart Friday afternoon. That's when a vial filled with a mysterious green gas fell out.
"When they ripped off one of the doors, the vial fell out—luckily it didn't break, because it was filled with tear gas!" Lorenc said.
The CS gas, an irritant that is similar to tear gas, was likely inside the safe as a booby trap to thwart thieves. Massachusetts State Police arrived with a tier 1 HAZMAT response, and ordered the building evacuated.
“This obviously isn’t a call that we go on every day, but I want to commend the building owner for calling 911 and thankfully no one was hurt,” Amesbury Police Chief Ken Berkenbush said in a release.
The vial was taken away by Massachusetts State Police to be detonated at a safe location.
"It's been an adventure, I'll tell ya," Lorenc said. "These old buildings, you just never know what they're gonna show you!"
As for that safe? Lorenc says it's up for grabs.
"It's still in the building," Lorenc said. "We're still trying to figure out how to get rid of it. My son just floated the idea of making it into a big mailbox, but I really don't think the post office would appreciate that."
WBZ NewsRadio's Doug Cope (@dcopewbz) reports