An anthrax scare forced the evacuation of the downtown Salt Lake offices of the FBI for almost three hours Friday.

About 9:45 a.m., an employee was opening mail in a contained area as is protocol for all mail at the FBI headquarters because it is screened before it is distributed.

One letter addressed to the FBI was immediately identified as hate mail because of some writing that the FBI did not disclose Friday morning. Inside the envelope, the employee noticed a white powder, said FBI Special Agent Juan Becerra.

"He immediately stopped, took his gloves off, left the letter in the machine, which is certified for hazmat incidents, and notified our office," he said.

All 120 employees of the FBI plus all the other businesses in the 13-story building at 257 E. 200 South were evacuated.

Hazmat crews from the Salt Lake Fire Department collected the powdery substance into a sealed container and took it away for testing. The area where the mail was sorted was then sterilized before employees were allowed to return.

The FBI was allowed back into the building about 12:35 p.m.

There was no word of any injuries. The man who opened the mail was decontaminated by fire crews.