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Two Buildings Evacuated

Two Science Buildings Evacuated Due to Fire

Safety officials are making sure Science Laboratories and Geology building are safe for students, staff and faculty

(May 10, 2005)

Update: Both the Science Laboratories and Geology building have reopened and classes are being held as normal. Labs will resume as normal on Monday, May 16. Students who were in the building when it was evacuated and need to retrieve personal items can contact Rodney Jenks at (951) 827-3143 or via e-mail at

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (May 10, 2005) -- A fire in a chemical storage area of the first floor of the UC Riverside Science Laboratories building was reported at approximately 2:21 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10. The fire affected approximately 300-square-feet of the building and is now extinguished. No damage estimate is available.

Because of the possibility of chemical contamination, the building, which includes classrooms, research labs and office space, was evacuated. Classes were in session at the time. The adjacent Geology building was also evacuated when it was determined that some water from the sprinklers had run into the building. Approximately 100 people were affected by the evacuation.

Two minor injuries were reported. One student received a one-inch cut to his forehead and complained of ringing in his ears; another received a minor cut on his hand. As a precaution, those two students, along with two staff members who were in the vicinity when the fire broke out, were sent to the Environmental, Health and Safety Building for decontamination, said Mike Lane, assistant chief of police for the University of California Police Department (UCPD).

During the decontamination process the four showered, their clothing was bagged and sealed and they were given replacement clothing. None of them reported any health related complaints and they were released.

Officials believe an exploding chemical bottle may have caused the fire, which activated overhead sprinklers. The Riverside City Fire Department, campus police, Riverside County’s Hazardous Materials team and UC Riverside’s Environmental, Health and Safety office all responded to the fire.

Officials were still trying to determine what chemicals might have been involved. The water that was released onto the floor from the overhead sprinkler heads will be tested for chemical contamination, officials said.

Police said the Science Laboratories building would likely reopen for classes sometime Wednesday. Some students and others who need to get into the buildings to retrieve personal possessions have gathered at the UCR Commons cafeteria, and were awaiting instructions from officials.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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