BUSINESS premises in Flintshire were evacuated on Wednesday morning amid fears concerning an unidentified postal package.
Offices in Mold High Street - including those of the Chronicle - had been alerted to the possible danger the previous day, following an anthrax alert at the office of sister paper, the Crewe Chronicle.
The suspicious-looking package, a plain brown envelope sealed with sticky tape and bearing a Wolverhampton post mark, aroused the suspicion of John Hughes, who has an office in the building which is also home to two shops, an accountancy business and a company of chartered quantity surveyors.
Mr Hughes, who is usually the first to arrive in the mornings, was sorting the mail into bundles at 7.15am when he came across the envelope.
He said: 'There are six separate businesses in this building and it struck me as odd that the letter was not addressed to any one of them in particular, just to 82/84 High Street. The hand-written address looked a bit shaky, it hadn't been sealed in the normal way, there was no stamp, just a franking mark and I didn't feel happy about it.
'Having heard the previous day about the other incidents and that one recipient had been a newspaper, I immediately phoned the police.'
Officers rushed to the scene and isolated the package. The building was evacuated as a precautionary measure.
The letter arrived the day after a clutch of similar envelopes had been delivered to addresses in Cheshire and Merseyside, including the Royal Mail sorting office in Liverpool.
A police spokeswoman praised Mr Hughes for his action and said he had done a wise thing under the present circumstances.
Sergeant James Lee took up position outside the building while parked cars were cleared.
'The plan is to isolate the letter and leave it somewhere cool until someone arrives to remove it,' said Sergeant Lee.
The mysterious envelope was locked in a toilet and people were allowed back in the building.
Mr Hughes washed his hands in a solution of bleach and water.
An officer remained on duty outside the building until a special disposal unit arrived from Liverpool. Specialist equipment was used to x-ray the envelope before declaring that it did not pose any danger.
It was placed in another plastic bag and sealed before being taken for further examination, where its contents were found to be safe.
* North Wales Police have received an increasing number of reports of suspicious packages.
They say the majority were from well-intentioned members of the public and none of the packages have proved dangerous so far.
However, there have been a few deliberate hoax calls and police are adopting a tough line on anyone found to have sent such a package or to have made a hoax call. Those responsible could face prison sentences of up to seven years.