Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Detroit Comes to UC Berkeley: Theft of Copper Wire from Off-Campus Electrical Station Causes Power Outage, Explosion, Fire, Wounds Four, and Necessitates Evacuation of Main Campus

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix

Thanks to reader-researcher RC, who sent in this story, writing,

I guess Berkeley is suffering from poverty, too.
UC Berkeley explosion tied to copper wire theft

University of California-Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof explained the reasons behind the explosion that followed a power outage on the school's main campus on Monday night.

By Veronica Linares
Oct. 1, 2013 at 8:28 A.M.

At least one person was hospitalized, and three others had minor injuries, after a massive explosion took place at the University of California-Berkeley following a power outage Monday.

The explosion, which prompted the evacuation of the main campus, was reported near Sather Tower north of California Hall at around 6:30 p.m. roughly two hours after a power system failure was reported said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof.

The blast and fire, which left four people with minor burns, was probably caused by the theft of copper wire from an off-campus electrical station, said Mogulof.

The spokesman went on to say the stolen wire was discovered last week and repaired Sunday.

"We have a strong suspicion that what happened is related to vandalism discovered last week,” Mogulof told reporters. “The damage they caused may have been far more extensive than we originally thought.”

[N.S.: Stealing copper wire isn’t vandalism.]

He added the blast area was two stories high and two roadway-lanes wide. In addition, the shock darkened residence halls and triggered an ammonia leak, which was contained.

Mogulof explained the explosion took place as engineers were attempting to bring power back.

“Something happened here that surprised the experts,” he said. “Somebody attacked our system. Somebody stole key parts of our system.”

The UC Berkeley campus remained dark for most of Monday night, but power began to be restored in stages early Tuesday.

"We are waiting, checking, testing. It's a huge campus so it's going to take a while. Obviously our top priority is to continue providing academic activity on the campus, but that's not going to trump life safety," he said.

Power was expected to be fully on in time for classes Tuesday morning. As for student's dorms Mogulof explained each residential dorm is equipped with a backup generator that would allow students to congregate, do homework and watch television.

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