Fire at FSU Mag Lab: Employee Returns to Work [SLIDE SHOW]

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UPDATED 12.13.2012 by Julie Montanaro

A worker injured in a fire at the FSU Mag Lab returned to work this week.

Both inside and outside investigations are complete but the director is still awaiting a full report before making any changes.

Fire forced the evacuation of FSU's National High Magnetics Field Lab November first.

"Suddenly I heard this explosion sound and then I had to run out," employee Leonard Nyadong said that day. "I just knew that something bad must have happened, so that's why I ran out of the building."

A maintenance worker wound up being lifeflighted with second and third degree burns that day.

The lab director now says that fire started with an arc between high voltage panels.

"We opened the front panel for a circuit breaker box, so it's a lot like your fuse box at home, and in removing one of those, it touched another and so that caused an electrical spark," lab director Greg Boebinger said. "Just as our magnets are big, so are our electrical circuits. Even an arc you would get on your home box could be quite large but ours was certainly larger than the one in your house."

Boebinger says the fire started about 50 yards from the world's most powerful MRI. The MRI wing was closed for more than a week, but none of the scientific equipment was damaged.

The lab director says the damaged panels and cables have all been replaced and the worker returned to light duty on Monday.

Boebinger is awaiting direction from the National Science Foundation before making any changes in safety procedures.

"We expect that we'll be implementing the recommendations in the new year," he said.

updated 11.2.2012 7:15pm by Julie Montanaro

FSU has identified an employee injured in an explosion at the Mag Lab Thursday as Chris Oxendine.

Oxendine was flown to the burn unit at Shands Hospital in Gainesville with second and third degree burns to his face and arms.

A spokeswoman at Shands says Oxendine is in "good" condition.

Tallahassee, FL - November 2, 2012 - 9 am

Tweet from FSUAlert

The #FSU Mag Lab (@FSUMagLab) has reopened as scheduled at 8:00AM. The NMR wing remains closed.

Tallahassee, FL - November 1, 2012 - 6:02 pm by Lanetra Bennett

An employee at FSU's National High Magnetic Lab was flown to the hospital with serious burns.

A morning fire also forced the lab to evacuate and close for the day.

Leonard Nyadong didn't need a fire alarm to tell him to get out. He says, "Suddenly I heard this explosion sound and then I had to run out."

Tallahassee firefighters say it was a fire in a high-voltage panel at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at FSU.

University administrators say it happened at 9:15 Thursday morning during a routine maintenance procedure in the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance wing.

Nyadong is an employee at the Mag Lab. He says he was sitting at his desk when, "I just heard separate sounds. At the time, I had no idea what happened. I just knew that something bad must have happened. So, that's why I ran out of the building."

Authorities say a maintenance worker of ten years was flown to Shands Hospital in Gainesville with second and third degree burns to his face and arms.

The building was immediately evacuated.

LT Mike Bellamy with the Tallahassee Fire Department says, "The fire put off a lot of dark smoke due to the types of materials that were burning and it made it difficult for firefighters to see as they made their way through the building."

A spokesperson says there's never been an electrical fire like Thursday's at the lab since it was established in 1990.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

The name of the worker has not been released. No one else was injured.

The Mag Lab is home to the largest magnets in the world. It receives $50 million a year for research. More than 1,000 teams of scientists from around the world visit every year.

November 1, 2012 - 4:45pm

The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL) (Mag Lab) will reopen all areas except the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) wing at 8:00AM on Friday. The NMR wing will remain closed indefinitely pending ongoing investigations and repairs.

Magnet Lab Release

Tallahassee, FL - An employee of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University suffered serious burns after an electrical fire this morning. The MagLab will remain closed today.

The employee, who has worked as an engineering technician at the MagLab for 10 years, suffered second- and third-degree burns and was transported by LifeNet helicopter to Shands Hospital Burn Center in Gainesville, Fla., following initial on-scene treatment by Leon County Emergency Medical Services and the Tallahassee Fire Department. There were no other injuries.

The fire occurred about 9:15 a.m. during a routine maintenance procedure in theNuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) wing. Leon County EMS, TFD and the FSU Police Department responded immediately. The MagLab was immediately evacuated and the fire extinguished. The state fire marshal and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also were on the scene.

“Ourfocus is on our friend and colleague who was injured this morning, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family,” said Greg Boebinger, director of the MagLab. “We want to thank the first-responders for their quick response.”

Power is off to the NMR wing of the MagLab while a team of safety and technical experts investigate the cause of the fire. TFD and FSU Environmental Health and Safety personnel are ventilating the building and evaluating the indoor airquality in the remaining wings of the facility.

The only magnet lab of its kind in the United States, the MagLab is home to thelargest and most powerful magnets in the world. The lab was established by the National Science Foundation in 1990.

FSU Alert

Tallahassee, FL - 12:00 pm

All areas of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, with the exception of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) wing, will reopen for occupancy at 12:30pm. While there will continue to be an acrid odor within the complex, the Tallahassee Fire Department and FSU Department of Environmental Health & Safety have thoroughly tested the indoor air quality and determined that there are no threats to health safety.

Tallahassee, FL - 11:31 am - Employees of the A wing and OPMD were first cleared to go back inside the building, then told to leave again.

Tallahassee, FL - 11:15 am -The entire National High Magnetic Field Laboratory remains evacuated at this time. Personnel continue to evaluate the indoor air quality throughout the complex to ensure the atmosphere inside is safe for occupancy.

Tallahassee, FL - 11:03 am - Using power fan to get smoke out. Looking to get employees back in building soon.

Injured worker has worked here 10 years.

Stay with WCTV for more updates.

Tallahassee, FL - 10:56 am - Cause unknown. Fire marshals investigating. Still determining extent of damage. No one else hurt. Animals from lab evacuated safely.

NMR section building B. Magnets inside can't turn off, described like a big MRI machine

Tallahassee, FL - 10:30 am - Victim was maintenance worker, man, second and third degree burns to face and arms. Treated on scene then flown to Gainesville.

FSU Alert

Tallahassee, FL - 10:15 am - At approximately 9:15am, a Fire Alarm was received from the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. The Tallahassee Fire Department, Leon County EMS, and FSU Police Department responded. The entire Mag Lab was immediately evacuated.

It is reported that an electrical fire occurred in the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) wing, resulting in injury to one individual. TFD has extinguished the fire and is currently ventilating the building.

The entire Mag Lab remains evacuated at this time. TFD and FSU EH&S personnel are evaluating the indoor air quality in the remaining wings of the Magnet Lab at this time. It is anticipated that all areas other than the NMR will reopen within the hour.

Power is off to the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) wing. An investigation is ongoing. It is anticipated that the NMR wing will remain closed for several hours as the investigation and repairs are completed.

There is a large number of emergency vehicles on scene. Please avoid this area if possible.

Tallahassee, FL - 10:06 am - At least one person injured, unknown what the extent of the injuries are. Fire crews are still on scene.

Tweet from Tallahassee Fire Department

Tallahassee, FL - TFD Units on Scene at Mag Lab on Paul Dirac for an electrical fire, firefighters extinguished the fire, ventilating the building now.

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