UPDATE 4:50 PM -- Bottles of honey cause airport shutdown
Authorities say the suspicious material inside luggage that prompted the shutdown of a California airport turns out to be five soft drink bottles filled with honey.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood says the bottles, found inside a checked bag at Bakersfield's Meadows Field, had tested positive for traces of an explosive.
Youngblood says investigators are trying to determine whether there was something in the honey or on the bag that caused security alarms to go off shortly before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.
They have been questioning the bag's owner, 31-year-old Francisco Ramirez, a gardener from Milwaukee who says he flew to Bakersfield to spend Christmas with his sister.
The discovery of the suspicious material halted flights to and from the airport. Two security officers reported feeling ill after being exposed to the bottles.
"It sounds like, at this point, it's a hazmat issue; it's not terrorist-related or anything like that," said Suzanne Trevino, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration. "It's not a bomb."
The unidentified material was discovered in a checked bag at Meadows Field. The bag's owner has been detained for questioning.
Bakersfield Fire Chief Nick Dunn said it was in a bottle that released fumes. Two TSA officers who were exposed to the fumes were taken to a hospital for evaluation then released with no medical issues, Trevino said.
The discovery closed down the airport around 8:20 a.m., with officials calling in a hazardous material crew. A bomb squad also was dispatched to the airport as a precaution.
At least one SkyWest Airlines flight from San Francisco was diverted to Los Angeles.
The discovery came less than two weeks after a man was charged with trying to destroy a Northwest Airlines flight as it approached Detroit. He is alleged to have smuggled an explosive device on board the aircraft and set if off, but the device sparked only a fire and not the intended explosion.
Airline security has been tightened since the arrest.