HANOVER, Md. (AP) - Smoke and the smell of sulfur poured from two packages opened Thursday at state government buildings 20 miles apart, slightly burning the fingers of two employees but not seriously injuring anyone, authorities said.
State officials first said the packages exploded, but later said there were no blasts.
"When both packages were opened there was a reaction that caused a flash of fire, a brief flash of fire, smoke and a smell," state police spokesman Greg Shipley said. "This is not to be compared with a significant explosion that you think of when you say that word."
Mailrooms at state offices across Maryland were being quarantined until it could be determined if any other packages had been sent.
One of the packages was addressed to Gov. Martin O'Malley and the other to the state transportation department. The State Fire Marshal's office did not find any explosive material in either.
One was opened around 12:30 p.m. Thursday at the Jeffrey Building, a state office building just blocks from the State House in downtown Annapolis, and another 15 minutes later at the Maryland Department of Transportation building in Hanover, near Baltimore's airport. Several people from that building were taken to the hospital as a precaution, police said. It was not clear if the transportation department employee with the burned fingers was among them.
Shipley said the packages were small, about the size of a book. One had five holiday stamps.
The Jeffrey Building houses the state Department of Veterans Affairs, the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and the Maryland Secretary of State's office, as well as the mail room for the governor's office.
Cate Conroy, acting director of outreach and advocacy for the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, was working there when the first package was opened and said employees calmly evacuated after being told to so while reports of smoke were investigated.
"It happened quite quietly actually," Conroy said.
She said employees were allowed back into the building around 3:30 p.m.
The FBI's joint terrorism task force was assisting in the investigation, the state police spokesman said, adding that the state fire marshal and a number of other law enforcement agencies also responded to the two scenes.
A U.S. Homeland Security Department official said the department was aware of the incidents and monitoring them.
New Jersey state police also said they had notified agencies across the Garden State about what had happened, saying it was part of normal protocol when such incidents occur. The New Jersey agencies were advised to be "extra vigilant" in handling mail and packages.
In neighboring Delaware, Detective Britt Davis, a spokesman for the Delaware Capitol Police, said police were operating in a state of raised awareness, but they are not doing much differently.
Associated Press Writers Alex Dominguez and Kasey Jones in Baltimore, Jessica Gresko in Annapolis, Brian Witte in Atlanta, and Eileen Sullivan and Alicia Caldwell in Washington contributed to this report.