By Makenzie Marineau
CORVALLIS, OR – Corvallis Fire Department, and Police, received information regarding an unknown explosion that caused a minor fire at Oregon State University’s old heat plant near the intersection of 15th and Washington early this morning.
At approximately 8:25 am the explosion took place inside the boiler room injuring a middle aged man who is an employee of OSU according to Fire Battalion Chief Jim Patton.
“Our belief is that the individual tried to extinguish the fire himself and stayed in harms way for too long,” Patton said. The injured victim was found by crews on the scene beside the boiler with a fire extinguisher beside him.
A phone call was made to the Fire Department when an observant worker at the OSU heat plant noticed smoke coming out from the east side door of the plant.
Lora Sauermann public information officer with Corvallis Fire Department said they are still unsure what started the explosion and fire. “The Corvallis Fire Department, state police and the Oregon Boiler Association are investigating the cause.”
The boiler is the center of the investigation, and the occurrence of a natural gas leak is being inspected too.
“We vented the boiler out, right now we’re trying to get it ready for inspection from the state and the fire department,” Les Walton the manager of OSU’s heat plant said.
Oregon State Police Sgt. Vonn Schleicher said there are no streets being closed down but if people are planning to head towards campus to avoid the site of the fire and take an alternative route. “The public is at no risk but we still want people taking proper precautions.”
The fire happened only weeks after OSU recovered from an electrical fire that occurred over Thanksgiving break that cut electrical power, data and phone service in 26 buildings on campus.
“We certainly encourage folks to exercise caution when dealing with a fire situation. The primary importance is for them to be safe,” Patton said.
OSU Housing and Dining Services conducted 19 announced fire evacuation drills and 57 unannounced drills at on-campus residence halls during the 2009 calendar year with the hope of keeping the beavers student community safe.
For more information regarding fire safety tips read the Department of Public Safety and Oregon State Police’s OSU Annual Fire Safety Report.