UPDATED: University Reopens Chemistry Building After 'Violent' Explosion

Two students treated for first- and second-degree burns.

Updated 4:16 p.m.: The University of Maryland has reopened the chemistry building, according to a Department of Public Safety alert at 4:07 p.m.

Update 3:56 p.m.: Prince George's County Fire Department spokesman Mark Brady also confirmed at the press conference that the two substances the students were experimenting with were nitric acid and sulfuric acid, although the original statement said nitrogen and sulfuric acid were involved.

In all, there were 11 students in the lab at the time of the explosion, although only four were decontaminated, and two were injured with first- and second-degree burns and superficial lacerations.

Update 3:29 p.m.: The explosion occurred when two students conducting an experiment poured two substances into a waste basket, which reacted with a third substance, Prince George's County Fire Department spokesman Mark Brady said at a press conference Monday afternoon.

He said that it is not uncommon for the department to respond to incidents at the chemistry building. It is not typical, however, the students are injured in such incidents, Brady said.

He said that the chemistry building has been turned over to the University of Maryland, and it is now up to the university when to reopen.

Brady also tweeted after the press conference that the "products" have been neutralized by the hazmat team, and that there was significant damage to the hood system.

Update 3:15 p.m.: The chemical explosion occurred when nitrogen and sulfur acid were mixed in an experiment, according to a statement from the Prince George's County Fire Department.

"The combination of these [two] products do not normally cause such a violent reaction," according to the statement. It was unknown if there were any other chemicals involved.

These are the additional details provided in the statement:

  • There was a small fire on the first floor of Wing 3 near a ventilation hood that firefighters quickly extinguished before exiting the building. This contradicts the tweet from the fire department that the incident occurred on the third story.
  • There were four people (at least two of them students) in the lab where the explosion occurred. All of them have been decontaminated and treated by paramedics on the scene.
  • The two female students who suffered burns were transported to a burn unit, and are reported to be in good condition.

Update 2:56 p.m.: The hazmat team has exited the chemistry building, but has yet to release its analysis from the samples and information gathered inside, according to tweets by the Prince George's County Fire Department spokesman.

Update 2:43 p.m.: These are the facts according to the Twitter account of Mark Brady, spokesman for the Prince George's County Fire Department:

  • Medics are treating two college-age females for minor first-degree burns and superficial lacerations.
  • The chemical reaction occurred on the third floor of the four-story chemistry building.
  • Initial tweet included a report of fires inside the building, which are reportedly extinguished.
  • Entire chemistry building has been evacuated.

Update 2:20 p.m.: UMd. Public Safety reports that hazmat (dangerous substance) crews are on the scene.

Original Story, 1:38 p.m.

The Diamondback is reporting there was an explosion in a chemistry building on campus, resulting in fires that are now extinguished. Two females are being treated for burns and lacerations, according to The Diamondback.

The university's Department of Public Safety issued an alert about the "chemical incident" at 1:18 p.m. Fire and police officials reported to the scene, according to the alert.

The Department of Public Safety urges everyone to stay away from the scene.


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