- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 13, 2001

The media may have been working overtime yesterday worrying about anthrax, but for some on the Mall, the weather was too nice for such things.
"I don't see any reason to act differently," said Chris Lamouroux of Alexandria, who was taking a brisk walk.
Frank Raimondi, a tourist from Plymouth, Ind., said he's "more careful about what I touch." But that's as far as his fear goes.
Dennis Benkendorf, who grows Christmas trees near Appomattox, Va., doesn't know what to make of recent cases of anthrax reported in Florida and New York. But he's not hiding indoors.
"I don't think they have enough information yet to say whether it's a terrorist, or just a bunch of crazies," he said.
Others, however, have become suspicious of everything and don't hesitate to call the police, the fire department or emergency workers about mysterious substances at work or in their homes.
As of noon yesterday, eight persons asked firefighters to investigate suspicious powders or dust they thought contained anthrax spores, a D.C. fire department official said.
One caller was an employee of the State Department, who said he found a strange powder on the property. The powder turned out to be dust from a nearby construction site.
Montgomery County fire crews have received calls for help from people who believed they had been exposed to anthrax, spokesman Peter Piringer said. Most recently, a woman at a church in Chevy Chase said she "felt a tingling" sensation in her hands after she opened a letter with a Florida return address. No anthrax or other toxin was found in the letter.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service fielded calls all day yesterday from people who wanted to know what tainted mail looked like. U.S. News & World Report stopped delivering mail to employees yesterday when it received an "awkward" letter one without a proper return address according to an employee, who spoke on the condition on anonymity.
"Terrorism is not a new event. It is new in our own back yard," said Jim Rice, supervisor of the FBI's National Capital Response Squad, who was part of a news conference yesterday that was called to reassure the public that authorities were prepared and well-equipped to handled any threat that might surface.
He said people should report suspicious incidents but that they should be taught what poses a real threat letters or packages with wires sticking out of them, or mail with oily or greasy spots, or excessive postage.
One purpose of the news conference to reduce unfounded fears that kept investigators out in the field, checking out every call was underscored when members of the squad couldn't appear, as scheduled, because all 12 were responding to suspicious-package calls.
Mr. Rice said the squad investigated 17 calls in one eight-hour shift on Wednesday. He said none of the incidents posed a threat.
Prince George's County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Chauncey Bowers said yesterday did not bring its usual flood of calls. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, hazardous-material crews have been called out to inspect biological and chemical threats.
Those "higher level of responses," he said included Tuesday's incident when a gunman sprayed a chemical, later deemed to be a cleaning solution, inside a Metro car at the Green Line's Southern Avenue station.
Montgomery County's bomb squad handled as many calls in the past 30 days as it did the previous nine months, Mr. Piringer said.
Daniel F. Drummond and Jabeen Bhatti contributed to this report.

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