MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Dozens of University of Minnesota students were evacuated from The Marshall apartment building in Dinkytown Tuesday afternoon after a possible ricin contamination was reported.
Minneapolis firefighters arrived at the massive building on the 500 block of 14th Avenue Southeast at about 4 p.m. on a report of a hazardous material inside of an apartment. They learned a female victim had already been transported to a local hospital by a private vehicle.
Residents told WCCO-TV they first noticed fire trucks outside the building, then the fire alarm sounded. Firefighters went door to door to evacuate dozens of students, who are in the midst of finals week. The building was only partially evacuated. County property records indicate has 316 residential units.
“Hoping to get a few extensions maybe because things are timed, and due today even,” said one of the residents.
Minneapolis police say a HazMat team neutralized the affected apartment, and brought the unknown substance to the Minnesota Health Laboratory, where chemists are working on identifying it. Ricin, a poison naturally found in castor beans, is hazardous when inhaled or ingested.
Investigators say the contamination was likely limited to just a single apartment, but an FBI HazMat team was at the scene Tuesday evening to assistant in the clean-up effort. Minneapolis police are also guarding the contaminated room.
Students were allowed back inside the building just after 9 p.m.