Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe. A suspicious tubular item spotted Sunday in Arlington turned out not to be a pipe bomb.

But for hours in the 100 block of South Highland Street, it had seemed to hold enough potential danger to bring the police, the fire department and the bomb squad.

Residents said they believed that a motorist had asked a resident for directions. The resident was a law-enforcement officer who, they said, saw things in the car that seemed not to look right, pipe included.

A woman said she was told to go to the back of her house. A man tried to return home but was kept away.

Via Twitter, an Arlington Fire Department spokesman said a robot was deployed. It could not rule out an explosive device. He said bomb technicians would “disrupt the device” in the car.

There was a flash and a pop, then an update. “The pipe was empty,” the spokesman said.

The fire department said it turned the matter over to the police.