Fridge door blows off during explosion, breaks window at USF Tam - WFLA News Channel 8

Fridge door blows off during explosion, breaks window at USF Tampa lab

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Hazmat crews responded to reports of an explosion at a USF lab Hazmat crews responded to reports of an explosion at a USF lab

A refrigerator door is to blame for an early-morning explosion call at the University of South Florida Tampa. Tampa Fire Rescue says the door blew off the fridge in a USF research lab and shattered a window. But, investigators do not believe chemicals caused the explosion.

A line of fire trucks filed into the USF research park at around 2:45 Wednesday morning. Shortly before, a fire alarm had gone off inside a laboratory at the Research and Innovation building. At the same time, a campus police officer reported hearing an explosion.

When crews came on scene, they found a double paned window had shattered. Officials say the door blew off, flew about 15 feet, and shattered the window.

"I have not seen a refrigerator door blow up but stranger things have happened," Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Jason Penny said.

Scientists from the lab came to help investigators. And while the refrigerator stored chemicals, officials do not believe they were to blame for the explosion.

"From what they're telling us, there's no harmful chemicals. In fact, inside the refrigerator, they said it wasn't even any sort of harmful chemicals inside that refrigerator," Penny said. "The Chief Science Officer who showed up thinks that it was the faulty refrigerator."

Just in case, officials vented the room after smelling a chemical odor.

"There was no harmful chemical breakage or spillage inside there," Penny said. "There was a faint odor that you could smell that smelled like chemicals."

As daylight approached, a clear view of the damage was visible. The glass was shattered and a white refrigerator door was near the window. Investigators from the State Fire Marshal's office continued their work, but for now officials do believe the refrigerator was to blame.

There were no injuries in the incident, which caused minor damage to the lab.

The laboratory was leased to a company called Intezyne which specializes in cancer research.

"We are relieved no one was hurt, and we would like to thank the Tampa Fire Rescue and the USF Police Department for their rapid assistance. We are very impressed with the speed at which they assessed the situation and got everything under control," said an Intezyne spokesperson.

The lab is closed for repairs and cleanup and is expected to reopen Friday.

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