IRS Building Evacuated After White Powder Spills Out on Employees

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A hazardous materials scare forced a huge evacuation Tuesday of the IRS center in southeast Fresno.

A mailroom employee thought he was opening a regular letter from a taxpayer. But when he opened it, a white powder spilled all over him. A few minutes later, at least 3 people were complaining of their eyes and skin being irritated.

89 people were evacuated from the mail center at the IRS building in southeast Fresno around lunchtime Tuesday. Spokesman, James Gaither says a mailroom employee was opening a letter when a white powdery substance spilled onto his lap. "Just a regular white envelope. Actually it was a taxpayer requesting an address change, " said Gaither.

Gaither says there was one person on both sides of the man who opened the envelope. When all three complained that their eyes and skin were irritated, they called the Fresno Fire Department. The one exposed to the white powder was decontaminated on the scene.

Investigators still don't know what the white powdery substance is.

The other two employees who may have been exposed to the white powder were treated on scene are doing ok.

Gaither says Fresno's IRS office has been a target several times, receiving threatening letters on a regular basis and a few years ago, one man threw a pipe bomb over the fence, damaging some cars, but sparing any employees.

When firefighters cleared the scene, it was back to business for the IRS.

The Department of Treasury is investigating.

If anyone is charged, whether it's a hoax or not, they could be charged with a Federal offense. As for those who were exposed to the white powder, they are all said to be doing fine.

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