Anthrax hoax scare in Utah

A quarter to a half-cup of a mysterious white substance on a table inside a post office in Ephraim, Utah, recently led to the closing of a post office and the adjacent street while Hazmat investigated.

The powder was found to not be anthrax or any other life-threatening substance after it was tested by Hazmat volunteers. Another local scare was present on a performing stage at nearby Snow College. It too was found to be non-threatening, the Sanpete Messenger reports.

"We never did find out what it was, except that it wasn't life threatening," Ron Rasmussen, Ephraim Police Chief said, according to the Sanpete Messenger. "We were taking no chances."

Rasmussen evacuated the office at 55 E. College Ave. and partially closed College Ave. between 100 East and Main St. for five hours. Local officers blocked access to the front of the post office and only allowed drivers to traverse College Ave. if they had legitimate business.

Both sets of powder were sent for testing and the police department is awaiting further results.

"We appreciate the cooperation of the public," Rasmussen and Brian Nielsen, Sanpete's County Sheriff, said in a joint statement, according to the Sanpete Messenger. "This was also a great exercise for our response teams and we are better prepared for the future because of it."

The image of white powder appearing suddenly on a table evoked fears of the anthrax scare of 2001, in which 17 people were infected and five died. One U.S. Senate office was shut down for decontamination for several months.