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Suspicious box disrupts firefighter event

Hundreds of firefighters and their families from around the Northwest were gathered outside the Bank of America building in downtown Spokane this morning preparing for a memorial stair climbing event when a man tossed a box in their midst.

“He yelled a lot of profanities,” said Spokane Fire Department Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer. “He threw it in the middle of the firefighters and took off running.”

The firefighters and their familiy members were moved inside the building. Police tracked down the man and discovered he was suffering from a medical problem that made him act abnormally, Schaeffer said. “He wasn’t himself, apparently. The box was not a device.”

After the opening ceremony of the Spokane 9/11 Memorial Stairclimb was moved indoors, the event began without a hitch at 9 a.m. There were 256 firefighters signed up to participate from as close as the Spokane Valley Fire Department and as far away as King County, Missoula and Moscow.

Each firefighter carried the photograph and biography of at least one first responder that died in the Sept. 11 Twin Tower attacks. They climbed 110 flights of stairs, the same number there were in the Towers.