When Southern California Edison employees in Irwindale encounted a suspicious envelope containing a powdery substance that turned out to be harmless, their recent workplace training came into play.

The workers knew what to do: they called 911 and began exiting the commercial building in the 6000 block of North Irwindale Avenue around 8:20 a.m. in an orderly fashion, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Sean Ferguson.

“We evaluated the employees who had already self-evacuated,” he said. “And our hazmat team along with the hazmat team from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department made entry and safely removed the substance.”

Ultimately, testing revealed the contents of the envelope to be dirt.

Ferguson said it was recent SCE employee education that helped guide the emergency response.

“They had recently undergone training for an incident just like this, and that training kicked in,” he said.

A total of 11 workers were affected, including two mail room employees.

Irwindale police are now investigating, but at this point, Sgt. Rudy Gatto said there’s no reason to think there was any criminal intent behind the strange mailing that left a office full of SCE workers with a day they likely won’t forget any time soon.

“In this particular case, it’s way too early to speculate who, or why,” he said, recalling an incident earlier in his career where someone sent hair to a cancer hospital in the community.

“In a larger picture, I’ve been a cop for 20 years, and people send things through the male for all kinda of oddball reasons,” he said.

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