The Bloomingtonian

Explosion causes two fires at Bloominglabs last weekend

Members of the Bloomington Fire Department exit the building on South Walnut housing Bloominglabs after an explosion, and shrapnel, caused a fire, Friday, January 10, 2020 in Bloomington, Ind. A second fire began, and was extinguished around 3 a.m. Saturday morning. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
Members of the Bloomington Fire Department stand outside the building on South Walnut housing Bloominglabs after an explosion, and shrapnel, caused a fire, Friday, January 10, 2020 in Bloomington, Ind. A second fire began, and was extinguished around 3 a.m. Saturday morning. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

An explosion at Bloominglabs led to two fires in the 1800 block of S. Walnut Street last Friday night.

The Bloomingtonian went to the scene of a fire that was dispatched around 10 p.m., and a member of the Bloomington Fire Department in charge at the scene, said a fire had already been extinguished, but an investigator had been called. Smoke continued to billow from the building, which also houses Bloominglabs. Firefighters used fans to vent the building. However, another fire started around 3 a.m. the following morning, and firefighters were at the scene for over 30 minutes.

BFD Fire Prevention Officer Tom Figolah replied today, and said materials were combined that led to an explosion. “In this instance, the reaction resulted in an explosion that ignited nearby flammable materials, a wood shelf and attic insulation from a piece of shrapnel that went vertical into the ceiling.  Most of the fire was extinguished by the patrons of the establishment by using two fire extinguishers prior to the arrival of Bloomington Fire Department. The attic fire was located when fire units were checking for fire extension.  Had we not responded to the scene, the smoldering attic material would have developed into a blaze that would have caused extensive damage,” said Figolah.

According to Wikipedia the chemicals that were combined are ingredients in a form of rocket fuel.

There were no injuries, but the Police Department is determining why those materials were being used, according to Figolah.

Figolah added, “The Bloomington Fire Department adamantly warns that combining these elements should not be done for any reason.  This event could have easily resulted in serious injury and property damage.”

A message to Bloominglabs’ Twitter account asking about the fire, what may have caused it, and what they might need to continue at the location, was not answered last weekend, so the Bloomingtonian reached out to the fire department Tuesday. A post on Bloominglabs’ Twitter today seemed to indicate Bloominglabs was open tonight.

Figolah also took the opportunity to let the community know, “We also recommend that every home and business should have at least one working fire extinguisher that is easily accessible.  Information regarding fire extinguisher training, fire prevention and emergency evacuation planning at a home or business can be found by contacting me at the following phone number.”

Figolah can be reached at: 812-349-3888

The website for Bloomingtonlab is http://www.bloominglabs.org/index.php/Main_Page

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