White powder sent to St. Petersburg Times

Firefighters in St. Petersburg, Fla., responded to white powder found in an envelope at the downtown office of the St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday.

The powder was found on the sixth floor in the customer service department. A section of the floor was isolated and those on the sixth and seventh floors were asked to not move around while firefighters removed the envelope. This is the third time since 2001 that the office has received an envelope with white powder, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

Fire crews in hazardous materials gear arrived at 490 First Ave. S. after receiving a call at 10:48 a.m. While the contents of the envelope will be sent to a lab to be analyzed, preliminary tests found no protein, which rules out active biological substances like anthrax, Lt. Joel Granata, a St. Petersburg Fire Rescue spokesman, said, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

The hazmat crew washed its equipment outside after leaving the building according to procedure. The newsroom and the rest of the building operated normally during the investigation.

In the previous two instances that white powder was discovered at the office, the powder was found to be harmless.

Anthrax was used as a weapon in the United States in 2001 when it was deliberately spread through the postal system when letters containing anthrax-laced powder caused 22 cases of infection.