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Three Hospitalized After Substance in Letter Sparks Hazmat Incident at Fort Myer

Soldiers participate in a pass and review at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., on June 20, 2016. (DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim D. Godbee)

ARLINGTON, Va. — Eleven Marines were affected by an unknown substance apparently released when an envelope was opened today at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall outside D.C.

The Marine Corps said that “an envelope was received around 3:30 p.m., on the Marine Corps side of the base.”

“Shortly after receiving the letter, 11 people started to feel ill and caused the evacuation of the building,” the statement said. “After the evaluation of 11 people, three were transported in stable condition for further medical evaluations.”

The Corps said Joint Base Police Department officials were working with local HAZMAT teams, and NCIS and the FBI were investigating. The building “was screened and cleared, and the letter was removed.”

ABC7 reported that the eight people who weren’t taken to a hospital for further evaluation reported symptoms such as itching and nasal irritation. The FBI took the envelope to Quantico for testing after field tests didn’t reveal any nefarious substances, CNN reported, adding that the text of the letter “contained derogatory, at times unintelligible and ranting language, and was addressed to a commanding officer at the base.” Investigators were probing whether the sender had any connection to the base.

A corporal, gunnery sergeant and a colonel reportedly suffered a burning sensation on their hands and face, and one got a nosebleed.

The Arlington County Fire Department had scheduled a press conference on the incident for 8 p.m. EST, but canceled shortly beforehand and handed all statement duties over the base public affairs office.