Oakland police headquarters was evacuated Friday afternoon following reports of a suspicious smell.
Officers were allowed back inside about 2 p.m., but the building will remain closed to the public until further notice, according to police department officials.
The Police Administration Building at 455 Seventh St. was briefly evacuated after someone reported an odor of gas in the building, but PG&E officials say there was no gas leak.
It turns out the odor wasn't from a gas leak, but a problem with the heating and air-conditioning system.
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Initially, the California Highway Patrol said a possible gas leak was reported nearby in the 500 block of Sixth Street at about 11:30 a.m. CHP assisted in traffic control in the area and shut down streets, including the on- and off-ramps to Interstate Highway 880 at Jackson Street and Broadway.
“A lieutenant working on the second floor noticed a smell and confirmed with other people the smell wasn't normal,” OPD Officer Frank Bonifacio said. “They activated one of the alarms to evacuate the building."
More than 200 people evacuated the building this morning as PG&E and fire department hazmat crews worked to determine the source of the foul-smelling odor inside.
“We want to make sure all of our employees are safe and this odor is not something dangerous that can affect us seriously,” Bonifacio said. “We do have somebody, an HVAC repair person, on scene with building engineers and they're taking a look at that system now.”
The scare brought work at police headquarters to a standstill and led to limited access to the courthouse across the street.
Streets were reopened by about 2 p.m.
Police Lt. Chris Bolton said the evacuation shut down some of the department's services but emergency and online services were unaffected.
Friday’s episode isn't the first time the aging building's had problems. Last year, a malfunctioning toilet caused severe flooding, shutting down the building for two days.
Sources say the structure, constructed more than 50 years ago, also has frequent rodent and cockroach issues.
“I'm not sure how old the building is, but it is very old and has had problems with regards to water leaks,” Bonifacio said.
Some Oaklanders who have been inconvenienced say it might be time for new digs.
“It's been here ever since I've been a resident of Oakland,” Steve Weatherford said. “It's about time they had a new building wouldn't you think?”
While OPD HQ remains closed to the public, the Oakland Police Department’s Eastmont Substation, located at 2651 73rd Avenue, is open to the public Monday - Saturday, 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Signs going up at OPD...."closed until further notice" after foul odor from HVAC system detected pic.twitter.com/SgP5VBHhBE
— Jodi Hernandez (@JodiHernandez01) July 11, 2014
Bay City News contributed to this report.