Video update: Nine fire crews called to deal with fire at chemistry laboratory at the University of East Anglia

Firefighters at the scene of the fire in a chemistry laboratory at the UEA. Picture: Adie Russen

Firefighters at the scene of the fire in a chemistry laboratory at the UEA. Picture: Adie Russen - Credit: Archant

Nine fire crews were called to a fire at a chemistry lab at the University of East Anglia.

Firefighters at the scene of the fire in a chemistry laboratory at the UEA. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Firefighters at the scene of the fire in a chemistry laboratory at the UEA. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2014

They were called at 10.24am, and the building, on the main campus off Earlham Road, was evacuated.

The fire broke out as two staff members were preparing chemicals for experiments, but they were not injured.

Roy Harold, deputy chief fire officer, said: 'A couple of staff preparing some experiment had a small fire involving some solvents - a couple of litres in a fume cupboard.

'They implemented their own evacuation from lab, which is part of their standard plan. They shut down the ventilation system so the chemicals could not spread around the complex.'


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He said the fire, which he described as 'small', was extinguished by the firefighters and had caused minor damage, but the incident had triggered a full response plan because it involved chemicals.

He added: 'The two staff who were working on the experiment were checked over by the ambulance and are fine. They were able to give us a good description of what chemicals are there and that was very helpful.'

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He said firefighters remained on the scene to check an inventory of chemicals present in the lab, and there was still a smoke haze in the room two hours after the fire, because they had not been able to use the ventilation system in case it spread any chemicals.

One post-graduate chemistry student, who was on the same floor when the alarm sounded, said: 'I heard the alarm go off and evacuated. There were a lot of students, the graduates were in their labs and there were undergraduates and lecturers.

'They just shut the door between the labs and then they said 'fire' and we evacuated.'

She added that the department tests the alarms every morning, and there are regular fire drills.

Fire crews from Carrow, Earlham, Sprowston, Hethersett, Wymondham, Wroxham, Long Stratton and Attleborough were called to the scene, and two ambulances were called as a precaution but there are not believed to be any casualties.

A hazardous substance officer was also sent to the scene.

The UEA tweeted: 'The small fire in the Chemistry building has been extinguished but the cause of fire is still being investigated.'

Nigel Williams, chief fire office for Norfolk, who was addressing the Communities Committee meeting at Norfolk County Council at the time of the fire, told councillors he might have to leave rather abruptly because of 'a chemical incident'.

Did you see what happened? Call 01603 772459 or send your photos to ian.clarke@archant.co.uk

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