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UC Berkeley students return after campus explosion, power outage

October 01, 2013|By Lee Romney and Robin Abcarian
  • Students stop to look at smoke billowing from an explosion on the UC Berkeley campus Monday. Power was restored to most of the college by early Tuesday.
Students stop to look at smoke billowing from an explosion on the UC Berkeley… (Kohar Minassian / AP )

Most classes were slated to resume at UC Berkeley on Tuesday after a power outage and explosion prompted officials to evacuate the campus Monday night.

Four people suffered minor burns after an explosion rocked the campus at 6:30 p.m., about two hours after a power system failure, UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said.

The blast and fire north of California Hall, which forced students to scramble for safety and sent a dark cloud of smoke into the air, was probably caused by the theft of copper wire from an off-campus electrical station, he said.

The theft was discovered last week and repaired Sunday.

"The damage they caused may have been far more extensive than we originally thought," he said.

Partial power was restored late Monday night, and by 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, the lights were on in all but 11 buildings, according to the college. Classes in those buildings, including the Bancroft and Doe libraries, would be canceled, officials announced.

As power was restored to the remaining building, UC Berkeley officials said they would update the campus community via the college's website and social media accounts.

The college also pledged in a statement to update the public with any findings that come out of a review of what caused the incident.

Ripping the wire out of the system required a lot of force and probably special equipment, Mogulof said. The explosion took place as engineers were attempting to bring power back up, he added. 

The blast area was two stories high and two roadway lanes wide and sent at least one manhole cover shooting into the air. 


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Times staff writer Robert J. Lopez contributed to this report.

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