New Brunswick

'Small explosion' in UNB Fredericton lab prompts evacuation

The Fredericton Fire Department is investigating after a "small explosion" in a lab at the University of New Brunswick on Thursday led to the building being evacuated.

Head Hall closed and area blocked off as fire department investigates

Numerous firefighters were at Head Hall at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

The Fredericton Fire Department is investigating after a "small explosion" in a lab at the University of New Brunswick on Thursday led to the building being evacuated.

UNB spokesperson Sonya Gilks said it was caused by hydrochloric acid and sugar being mixed together in the basement lab of Head Hall.

The combination "caused some pressure in the bottle and the lid had burst off and then the chemical spilled out," she said.

No one was injured, despite initial reports by officials, said Gilks.

The two students who were working in the lab at the time were checked over by paramedics at the scene and released, she said.

The engineering building was evacuated as a precaution, and the lower portion of Dineen Drive, off Beaverbrook Street, was blocked to traffic.

About 200 students were waiting across the street, the CBC's Shane Fowler reported from the scene.

The building was "locked down" around 4:55 p.m. and all evening classes were cancelled, UNB security posted on Twitter.

As of about 7 p.m., the spill was being cleaned up with baking soda and water and UNB security was escorting students, faculty and staff back into the building to retrieve their belongings, said Gilks.

Classes are expected to resume as usual Friday morning, said Gilks.

Emergency crews responded to a report of a "small explosion" in the lab around 3:50 p.m., said Steven Fraser, assistant deputy chief of operations for the fire department.

"The scene is very contained, isolated to that one room," he said.

UNB security placed the call, said Fraser.

With files from Shane Fowler


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