Power restored at UC Berkeley after explosion

10/1/2013
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Fire and smoke rise from an underground explosion on the University of California Berkeley campus on Monday. At least one person was hospitalized and a mandatory evacuation was ordered after the explosion followed a power outage across campus.T:
Fire and smoke rise from an underground explosion on the University of California Berkeley campus on Monday. At least one person was hospitalized and a mandatory evacuation was ordered after the explosion followed a power outage across campus.T:

BERKELEY, Calif.  — Power was restored to most of the University of California, Berkeley, early today, after an explosion left one person hospitalized for minor burns, campus officials said.

The school’s Twitter feed announced early today that most classes would meet as scheduled.

Eleven buildings remained without power and classes in those buildings were canceled.

The explosion occurred in an underground utility vault outside California Hall before 7 p.m. Monday as crews were trying to restore power following an outage.

In addition to the one person hospitalized, three others also received minor burns but refused treatment, said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof.

“The explosion was about two stories high and as wide as a two-lane street,” Mogulof said. “We’re very fortunate there were no serious injuries.”

The blast may have been caused by an underground copper wire theft at a campus substation last week, Mogulof said. Officials thought they had repaired the damage Sunday.

“It appears that may have caused far greater damage than initially thought,” Mogulof said. “It’s more extensive.”

Fire crews also freed about 20 people stuck in dormitory elevators as a result of the outage that also led to the mandatory evacuation on campus.

The power outage was reported around 4:30 p.m. Monday and led to evening classes being canceled as students were told to suspend all lab activities, Mogulof said.

About a half-hour later, authorities reported an apparent ammonia leak in a room at Latimer Hall. It was contained almost immediately, campus officials said.

That was followed by the explosion, Berkeley acting fire Chief Gil Dong said.