The Emergency Closure of the Okanogan County Courthouse on Aug. 3 and 4 was due to an unidentified substance found in the auditor’s office around 4 p.m., Aug. 2, which prompted the evacuation of the entire courthouse.
“On Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, in the early afternoon, Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol SWAT team and the FBI were able to collect evidence from the auditor’s office. The evidence was then transported immediately by the FBI to the Washington State Department of Public Health Laboratory in Shoreline, Washington for analysis.
On the morning of Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office was notified that the substance was negative for any bio-terrorism agents or toxins,” said Okanogan County Emergency Management in an update last Friday.
At the time the substance was discovered, the county sheriff’s office, Okanogan Fire Department, Lifeline Ambulance and local Washington State Patrol responded. All employees that were in the proximity of the substance were decontaminated before being released to go home. One employee that came in contact with the substance was put in protective clothing before being transported by ambulance to Mid Valley Hospital. There were no injuries to employees or responders involved, according to emergency management.
The Washington State Patrol SWAT Team and the Seattle Office of the FBI were notified. Due to the time of the initial report being late afternoon on Aug. 2, the Washington State Patrol and FBI were not able to arrive on the scene until the following day.
The courthouse was secured, and courthouse security accompanied by law enforcement remained on the scene.
The courthouse department heads and elected officials were notified of the information that the substance found was not toxic. Due to the circumstances, the courthouse remained closed until today for required cleaning and then reopened this morning, Aug. 7, for regular business hours.