UC Berkeley campus evacuated; at least one explosion confirmed after power outage

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credit: dailycal.org

SOURCE – (BERKELEY) At least person was hospitalized and a mandatory evacuation was ordered on the UC Berkeley campus Monday after an explosion followed a campus wide power outage, officials said.

The outage, first reported at 4:45 p.m., appears to have been caused by an attempted copper theft in underground facilities near the Lawrence Hall of Science in the hills area of the campus, officials said.

About 90 minutes later, at 6:30 p.m., an explosion was reported near California Hall. It is unclear if the explosion was caused by the power outage, said Christine Shaff, communications director for facility services, who was near the explosion when it happened.

“It was a fireball,” she said of the explosion.

Image of smoke from explosion tweeted by Kohar Minassian. (Kohar Minassian)

An official Twitter account operated by the Office of Public Affairs said only that the power outage and explosion were caused by a “system failure.”

A few people suffered minor injuries, including one person who was hospitalized, according to campus spokesman Dan Mogulof.

Berkeley Acting Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb said firefighters, campus police and campus engineers were working to free students trapped in elevators. Webb said fire crews also responded to Latimer Hall, a building housing chemistry classes, where there was a report of ammonia leaking.