AP NEWS

U of Vermont grad student’s arm burned in lab ‘flash fire’

November 16, 2019

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A University of Vermont graduate student received burns to her arm Friday in a flash fire that occurred when a vial broke inside a laboratory fume hood and the chemical inside was exposed to the air, an official said.

The injury to the student, whose name was not released, was described as minor and there was no damage to Discovery Hall, one of the university’s science buildings, but classes and other activities were canceled in that building and an adjacent building for the day, said UVM spokesman Enrique Corredera.

The incident did draw a dramatic response from Burlington firefighters who called in state hazardous materials experts, Corredera said.

The student who was burned was one of five graduate students who were reorganizing samples of chemical compounds contained in small vials in preparation for disposing of some of them.

Corredera said one of the vials that contained what was most likely some sort of phosphorous compound broke inside the hood, causing the flash fire, which extinguished itself.

The student’s burns were caused by the heat of the fire, not the chemical, he said.

Burlington Fire Department Deputy Chief Aaron Collette said there was no chemical spill and the incident was contained in the hood.

“It’s exactly where it needs to be right now, for us,” he said.

Collette said state hazardous materials officials were called in and the state experts were working with their counterparts from UVM to determine what, if anything, further was needed for the cleanup.