Mysterious white barrel

Members of the Pocatello Fire Department’s hazardous materials team on Saturday investigate a mysterious white barrel of liquid that someone left in the TJ Maxx parking lot along Yellowstone Avenue.

POCATELLO — A mysterious barrel of liquid caused firefighters to cordon off a parking lot at a north side shopping center for over three hours on Saturday.

A citizen reported that the white barrel was leaking an unknown fluid in the parking lot of the TJ Maxx retail store along Yellowstone Avenue around 2:50 p.m.

The Pocatello Fire Department responded and immediately closed off the parking lot.

The Fire Department’s hazardous materials team was called in and after investigating the liquid determined that it was a hazardous solvent.

Most of the liquid leaked onto the parking lot’s asphalt surface and evaporated and the rest was disposed of by the hazardous materials team, the Fire Department reported.

There were no injuries during the incident.

Firefighters said that the barrel contained several gallons of the liquid solvent.

The Fire Department called in its hazardous materials team because the barrel containing the liquid had no markings or labels identifying its contents.

The coronavirus outbreak already caused TJ Maxx and many of the other businesses in the shopping center to close earlier this month.

When firefighters arrived they told members of the public to leave the parking lot and asked employees at the IHOP restaurant and Harbor Freight store — the two businesses still open at the shopping center — to temporarily not venture outside.

The Fire Department said it appears that someone placed the barrel in the parking lot for unknown reasons and then left the scene.

Firefighters said that if identified the individual who left the barrel in the parking lot could be ordered to pay for the emergency response to the incident. The Fire Department estimated the bill for the response to be several thousands of dollars.

The Fire Department remained at the scene of the incident until 6:30 p.m. Saturday at which point the parking lot was reopened.