Anne Arundel County emergency personnel scurried up and down Ritchie Highway yesterday, chasing phantom bombs in Glen Burnie, potentially dangerous crab parts in Annapolis and a gas line break at Marley Station, all before lunch.
"I don't want to go through that again," said Ron Hines, county police spokesman. "I can't believe the way things unfolded this morning. It was bizarre."
The commotion began just before 7: 30 a.m., when county police got an anonymous call that there was "a three-ton bomb in front of the District Court and the Arundel Center north," police dispatch notes recorded.
Police sent three bomb-sniffing dogs to check the court building, which had not opened, and the area around it, but found nothing and declared the building safe shortly after 9 a.m., police said.
The dogs moved on to Arundel Center North in the 100 block of Crain Highway, and police evacuated employees while they searched for an explosive device, but again found nothing.
While police were occupied in Glen Burnie, someone called the state fire marshall's office to report that a suspicious brown paper bag had been found on the sidewalk near the Arundel Center, next to a lot where County Executive John G. Gary and other top county government officials park.
Aware of the earlier threats, Annapolis firefighters, city and county police and deputies from the Sheriff's Department evacuated part of the Arundel Center and closed Calvert Street for 45 minutes during rush hour, according to Lt. Thomas Terry, Annapolis fire spokesman.
The lights and sirens drew the attention of a county budget office employee who recognized the bag as one with crab legs he had left there the night before for someone else to pick up, Terry said.
Still cautious, fire officials called for a bomb-sniffing dog, which smelled nothing dangerous. "They took a chance and opened it up," Terry said, speaking of a bomb technician. "Sure enough, it was crabs. Mostly claws."
But that didn't put an end to the morning's commotion. About 11 a.m., a construction worker who was installing an irrigation trench at Marley Station mall accidentally struck a gas line in front of the Sears, Roebuck and Co. department store being built there.
The odor of natural gas filled the southern parking lots, which were closed for an hour. The mall stayed open. A Friendly's restaurant, closest to the leak, was evacuated for about 15 minutes because of the odor, said Lt. Robert Kornmann, county Fire Department spokesman. The emergency limited the lunch menu at some restaurants, because gas service was shut off.
Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. shut off the high-pressure gas line and repaired it yesterday afternoon.
Pub Date: 9/20/96