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UC Berkeley Explosion In Utility Vault Empties Campus

Image: UC Berkeley Explosion In Utility Vault Empties Campus

By Michael Mullins   |  

A massive explosion in an underground utility vault rocked UC Berkeley on Monday night, injuring one person and triggering an evacuation of the campus along San Francisco Bay.

The explosion occurred in the utility vault followed a power outage earlier that morning, KTVU.com reported.

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Images of plumes of smoke from the explosion were uploaded to Twitter by eye witnesses.

According to students and staff who witnessed the explosion, the blast resulted in a two-story fireball.

"The explosion was about two stories high and as wide as a two-lane street," UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof told the Associated Press. "We're very fortunate there were no serious injuries."

The injured individual, who suffered minor burns as a result of the explosion, was hospitalized after having initially refused treatment, according to Mogulof.

As of Monday night at approximately 7 p.m., power was restored throughout the campus and classes resumed Tuesday morning, Fox News reported.

What caused the explosion is still unclear, however Mogulof suggested to the AP that last week's attempted theft of underground copper wire on campus might have contributed to the blast.

"It appears that may have caused far greater damage than initially thought," Mogulof added.

In addition to the injured individual, approximately 20 people were trapped on campus elevators because of the blast until responding fire crews freed them.

About ninety minutes after the explosion, an apparent ammonia leak in a classroom was also reported. Campus officials confirmed the leak was contained soon after, the AP reported.

In addition to the injury and damage it caused on campus, the explosion also apparently threw a monkey wrench into the study plans of many undergraduates, who were preparing for upcoming midterms in the coming days.

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"I have midterms tomorrow as do a bunch of other students on campus," Kelsie Carlson, a freshman, told KTVU. "A lot of students don't have power to study or get their laptops on or anything like that."

Though it is believed to have been triggered by the copper wire theft from last week, authorities are reportedly still investigating the cause of the blast.

Related stories:

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A massive explosion rocked UC Berkeley Monday night, injuring one person and triggering a campus wide evacuation. The explosion occurred in an underground utility vault and was preempted by a power outage earlier that morning.
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