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Memorial Day 2007, was not such a good day

On Memorial Day 2007, Monday, May 28, at about 9:30 in the morning, a fire broke out in the cosmogenic lab washing hood. The fire destroyed the hood, filled the lab with smoke, and triggered 3 sprinklers in the lab. At the time of the fire, the hood contained dilute Nitric Acid in HDPE bottles and in a HDPE tank as well as more concentrated Nitric Acid in a teflon tank. The tanks and hoods also contained large amounts of Teflon and other plastic lab wear. The fire was of electrical origin. The hot plate (Presto) was turned off at the time and photos taken just after the fire show that the Teflon coated immersion heater was unplugged.

The smoke and water contamination totaled the lab. Not data were lost (thank god for back ups) but samples in process were destroyed. Other samples still in quartz and contained in 50 ml tubes, were soaked by the sprinklers, and are being recleaned with multiple acid etches. Within weeks, all equipment was removed and disposed of. Soon after, the lab suite was gutted back to the cement walls. Intensive planning for the new lab began in July and continued through the fall. Construction began in January 2008 and was completed in June 2008. We were given a certificate of occupancy in mid-October 2008.

Through the generosity of many people and with much dislocation and hard work on their part, graduate students who depended on the lab were able to work elsewhere and get data. We thank John Stone, Derek Fable, Ari Matmon, and Marc Caffee for opening their labs to us.

The lab redesign was done by IDC and the construction management by ReArch of South Burlington, VT, led by Bert Delabruere. Michael Warren is the lead architect and Myron Wheeler and Mike Stevens managed the project for UVM. You can see plans for the lab, here .