Anthrax scare shuts Random

Field test negative; definite results expected today

In what company execs hope was no more than a “sick, twisted April Fool’s Day joke,” the Gotham headquarters of publishing conglom Random House was closed Wednesday after an anthrax threat shut down much of the new building.

A letter delivered to the 24th floor offices of Random’s Bantam Dell imprint late Tuesday apparently contained a powdery substance feared to be anthrax.

“We’ve taken it very seriously and are working with authorities who are investigating the threat,” Random House spokesman Stuart Applebaum said.

The New York police and fire departments shut down the heating and ventilation systems immediately, and a field test on the substance came up negative for anthrax. The company said more definite results are due today, and until then, all Bantam Dell employees were ordered to stay home. Employees on other floors were given the option of returning to work or going home.

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