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Paramedic describes "white powder" that shut down Mahnomen Cenex

 MAHNOMEN, Minn. — A cashier at the local Cenex says a dollar bill covered in white powder burned her hand Tuesday, April 30.

Just before 12:30 p.m., a customer came in and paid in cash.

Paramedic Jackie Bentler was inside buying a sandwich when she saw the powder at the till.

"[The cashier] said she touched this dollar bill with stuff on it," says Bentler. "Her hands were burning. After she washed them, they were still burning."

They put the powder in a bag and called police.

"First thing on my mind was drugs," says Bentler. "I mean, how many white powdery substances are out there? There's tons of them, but that's the first thing you go to these days."

The cashier and six other employees went to the hospital on the south side of town.

The six other employees did not come into contact with the substance.

Sheriff Doug Krier says they were treated and released as a precaution.

The seven patients were isolated at Mahnomen Health Center.

Police were ready to divert any other patients to different hospitals in the area.

"We didn't know what we had, so we didn't want to contaminate the hospital," says Krier.

The Moorhead HAZMAT team sealed off the scene, carefully getting this mysterious substance out.

They still don't exactly know what the powder is, but Krier believes it's not deadly.

"It's not any drug, but we're not quite sure exactly what it does."

Just after 5:00 p.m., the gas station was cleaned and cleared.

Roadblocks were taken out, employees returned to work, and the closed sign was flipped over.

Krier says the customer is not a suspect and did not know what the powder was or how it got there.

"[We] did talk with the person who brought the bill in. It was an innocent thing."

Investigators took a sample of the powder down to St. Paul to have it tested.

They hope to find out what it is Tuesday.

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