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WVU Engineering Research Building evacuated after experiment created explosive

West Virginia University evacuated its Engineering Research Building Tuesday afternoon after a student used something wrong in an experiment, creating an explosive, the school announced.

John Bolt, WVU’s communications senior executive director, said the evacuation of the building, on the Evansdale Campus in Morgantown, began around 2 p.m.

A news release from the school described the evacuation as a precaution, and said students are expected to return to the building Wednesday morning.

“There was no real urgency involved, it was more safety,” Bolt said. “We didn’t pull a fire alarm and have everybody get out of the building as fast as possible.”

Bolt said the building, which held a maximum of 50 people, should’ve been completely evacuated by 3 p.m. Tuesday, but he was still gathering details. He said he believes the experiment occurred Monday night.

“It wasn’t until today that they either got the analysis back or realized what was actually created was an explosive of some kind,” Bolt said Tuesday. “... What I was told was, if there was to be an explosion of chemicals, it would be contained in the lab and the lab had been locked down since yesterday.”

There is already some minor damage in the lab, Bolt said.

He said State Police and their technicians were coming in to remove the explosive and detonate it somewhere.

The news release, which called the incident a chemical accident, said “additional resources are also en route from the West Virginia State Police, Morgantown Fire and Police Departments, as well as the Fire Marshal’s Office to assist with removing some materials from the building out of an abundance of caution.”

Bolt said the Area 40 parking area was being vacated to act as a staging area for vehicles.

WVU texted out an all clear alert just before 8 p.m. Tuesday that the “affected chemical materials have been removed from ERB lab.”

Reach Ryan Quinn at

ryan.quinn@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1254 or follow

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