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POWDER SCARE: A letter a student filled with corn starch as a prank, caused a scare at Drake University Tuesday morning

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What was supposed to be a prank ended up with a hazmat scare at Drake University Tuesday morning.

A desk clerk at Harriett Hall was going through outbound mail when she noticed a white powder. She called officials who showed up and isolated the woman in case she was exposed to something dangerous.

Crews closed off the area for about an hour while they investigated. It turns out the powder was corn starch. A Drake student was trying to send a “corn starch letter bomb” as a joke to a friend.

Authorities say they take these threats seriously and there is a lesson in this case.

“They shouldn’t send anything out via mail that isn’t in its original container because if it does leak or spill it’s going to cause some concern to anybody involved and you can imagine if it spilled or leaked and they did the right thing and they isolated the employee that was exposed,” says Brian O’Keefe with the Des Moines Fire Department.

The student that sent the letter will have to pay the expense of the hazmat call out to the university.