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Cary, Smithfield Police Call Local Anthrax Scares False Alarms

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SMITHFIELD — There is no doubt that recent events have a lot of people on edge.

In Cary Thursday night, hazmat crews were called out to the Harrison Grande Apartments after a resident recieved a piece of mail that she considered suspicious.

Residents were evacuated while Cary firefighters, hazmat crews and paramedics made sure everything was safe. There was no problem with the letter, which was a mass mailing.

The Smithfield Police Department was quarantined and evacuated for about two hours Thursday morning while officials determined whether a suspicious letter brought there was a health hazard or a hoax.

Police say that a woman received a notice through e-mail that she would receive a letter allegedly contaminated with


. Police say a letter was received by the woman and taken to the police department Thursday morning.

Police say that the letter was touched by the woman and a person at the police department. Everyone else was evacuated from the building.

After investigating the incident, it was determined that the letter was harmless and the police department was reopened at 11 a.m.

"They addressed [the situation] with the minimim of disruption to the public and to other people. We isolated the risk and determined there was no risk," says Chief Steve Gillikin.

"Once the envelope was opened, we decided that everything was safe and everything was basically returned to normal at the point," said Asst. Chief Patrick Harris of the Smithfield Police Department. "The evidence has been collected and the police department, of course, will follow up on the e-mail situation."

Police say that the mail received by the woman was a legitimate letter from a non-profit group and not what was promised in the e-mail.

For now, police say that if you get a mass e-mail, ignore it. If you get a questionable envelope or package, put it in a zip-locked bag and call police. Do not take it to police.

"Contact your local enforcement agency and let them handle it from there," says Gillikin. "What we don't want the public to do is to move the package from place to place, which increases the exposure if indeed it is something."