Illinois post office evacuated after white powder scare

The Evanston Post Office in Evanston, Illinois, was evacuated on Thursday morning after an employee spotted a whitish-yellow powder on the outside of a package.

The employee notified the postmaster who then referred the situation to the Evanston Fire Department. A hazmat team arrived at the scene and determined that the mysterious white powder was actually a combination of flour and cooking spices, Patch reports.

"All is clear," Wally Bobkiewicz, the city manager, said, according to Patch. "We are cleaning up and will be departing shortly."

Prior to the identification, emergency responders arrived at the post office, evacuated the building and treated the employee. The employee got some of the material on his arms, according to Eric Palmer, the city's spokesperson. The fire department called for mutual aid from nearby suburbs and the local communities responded by sending at least 12 trucks.

The hazmat team quickly identified the substance as flour and cooking spices. The package was sent by an Evanston resident who purchased it for himself in California and subsequently mailed it home, Patch reports.

Anthrax, a white powder that can be used in bioterrorism, was sent through the mail in the United States in 2001. The powder caused 22 anthrax infections and five deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.