Streets in the Old Port were shut down Wednesday afternoon as Portland police spent about two hours checking out a suspicious red duffel bag found on a street corner near the U.S. Custom House.

From about 11:30 to 2 p.m., police closed several blocks of Commercial Street and evacuated about a dozen nearby businesses.

The situation drew a small crowd along Fore Street, watching as police used a robot and then a bomb technician to examine the bag. It was later taken to the Hazardous Devices Unit to be investigated, according to Sgt. Charles Libby III.

The duffel bag was at the corner of Pearl and Commercial streets, in front of the U.S. Custom House at 312 Fore St.

Portland police told News Center Maine (WCSH/WLBZ) that the bag contained someone’s personal items and nothing that could have caused harm to anyone.

The Custom House, which houses offices for several federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, is open to the public only by appointment and under escort. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Portland shut down Commercial Street between Silver and Franklin streets.

A police robot, visible just to the rear of the police vehicle, is positioned on the Pearl Street sidewalk next to the U.S. Custom House in Portland on Wednesday. Police were using the robot to investigate a suspicious red duffel bag found on the Commercial Street corner. Staff photo by Randy Billings

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