When firefighters got a call, saying a barrel full of white powder turned up in a St. Louis alley, crews had to check it out.
The 55-gallon drum was rusted and broken open, left in the alley of the 6400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue on Tuesday evening.
First responders cordoned off the area, tested the material and discovered that it wasn't dangerous. It was a type of gelatin. Firefighters and police were on the scene for about three hours. Once finished, they marked the barrel as safe and contacted the health department to ask someone to remove it.
"Until we're sure, we can't take any chances," said Russ Richter, a battalion chief with the St. Louis Fire Department.
It's not clear who left the barrel in the alley, but neighbors say the area is often used as a dumping ground.
Along with broken furniture, TVs and old tires, they say that they find items similar to the barrel. There are three scrap metal yards within a mile of the neighborhood. Neighbors said they believe people dump what they can't sell at a scrap yard, in their yards.
The mayor's office said it's attempting to catch people dumping trash, city-wide. Last winter, the city set up 40 hidden cameras in alleys and neighborhoods in north St. Louis to catch those illegally dumping trash.
A spokeswoman in the mayor's office said the city plans to expand the pilot program late summer or early fall with 120 new cameras. She said the cameras can be moved to different areas and the new program will help cover Ward 11, where the barrel was dumped this week.