That’s Italian! Powder in Rifle mail identified |

That’s Italian! Powder in Rifle mail identified

Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE – Italian food does not usually garner the attention of Rifle emergency responders, but a suspicious powder in an envelope turned out to be just that.

Three emergency agencies responded to a call shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Grand River Hospital and Medical Center in Rifle because two employees had been exposed to a white, powdery substance found in an envelope. The envelope was opened at an off-site billing department facility.

Two exposed employees were taken to the Grand River Hospital and Medical Center while the Rifle Fire Protection District, Rifle Police Department and the Glenwood Springs Fire Department responded. “Initially, we didn’t know what it was so our actions were more precautionary,” said Rifle officer Aimee Wride.

As it turned out, the powder wasn’t anthrax – the substance that scared America in 2001 when it was found randomly in the U.S. mail. Nor was it an illegal drug such as crack or cocaine. No, this was something completely different.

This was powdered alfredo sauce.

Rifle Fire Chief Mike Morgan saw the humor in the outcome of the situation, but reiterated the situation needed to be addressed as if it were a real emergency.

“When you respond to an unknown white powder, you’re hands are tied,” Morgan said.

Just hours earlier, the department had conducted a meeting regarding hazardous materials and how various agencies would respond. And though responders didn’t expect the powder incident to prove a serious threat, they treated it as a real emergency. If nothing else, it allowed them hands-on training to practice their skills.

“It wasn’t treated as a training, but it was a good opportunity,” Morgan said. “We like to err on the side of safety.”

Using an infrared detection device, the substance was ultimately determined to be the powdered sauce.

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