Anthrax scare in Big Sandy on Sunday ties up crews for hours

A quiet day at a Big Sandy mail order business turned into terror, as an anthrax scare tied up emergency crews for hours.  It happened around noon Sunday at the SFG building in the Big Sandy Business Park on Highway 155 and Commerce Street.

Police and Hazmat crews raced to the SFG building after a 911 call that a letter had been opened and released a mysterious white powder.  The fear was anthrax.

"We have to take everything like this and treat it as the real deal until we can prove that it's not," said Big Sandy Police Sergeant Scott Randall.  Twenty employees were evacuated, but remained isolated out of fear they may have been contaminated.

"Initial reaction was one of concern for the safety of the employees, SFG prides itself on the safety of employees," said company president Tony Pitlak.  "It's our foremost concern."  Investigators say one man complained of headaches after being exposed to the powder and Hazmat crews were sent in to try to test and find out what it was.  Hours went by, as crews worked to find out what the powder was.  Finally, word came that everyone wanted to hear.

"At this time we have narrowed down with the fire department assistance that it was not a biological agent, not any type of narcotics, so no reasonable danger to any of the surrounding area," said Randall.  Now the focus is who sent the letter and more important, why?  Federal agents have now joined the investigation into the origin of the letter.  Big Sandy police and fire crews, Longview fire and Hazmat crews, and Hawkins police all helped on the scene Sunday.

Bob Hallmark, reporting.