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MATTHEWS, N.C. -- First responders were on high alert after receiving a call about a smokey mailbox Sunday evening.

According to Annette Keller, Communications Director for Matthews, around 7:17 p.m. a witness called police after noticing someone threw what appeared to be a cigarette or lighter into the mailbox. The incident happened in the 9000 block of Independence Boulevard.

Keller tells WCNC.com, when officials arrived they noticed there were packages inside the mailbox and made the decision to take all necessary precautions including evacuations.

It was not immediately clear if the packages inside the mailbox were from prior deliveries.

Customers dinning at Subway and Outback Steakhouse were evacuated as police inspected the mailbox with the bomb robot .

Shortly after 8:30 p.m. police determined that someone had placed a smoke bomb inside the mailbox and cleared the scene.

Keller said there was never any immediate threat to the public.

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