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Boiler Explosions at UNR Leave Eight Injured

Multiple news sites reported on the incident which has left two residence halls uninhabitable.

RENO, NEVADA — Multiple news outlets have reported on two explosions at the University of Nevada, Reno, which occured on July 5th.

According to accounts on the web site of the Reno Gazette Journal, one of the boilers in Argenta Hall exploded. A severed gas line then filled an elevator before exploding as well. This left both Argenta and Nyes Halls—both residence halls—uninhabitable, and the university scrambling to find beds for more than 1,300 students due to arrive in late August.

Eight persons, six of them students, were reported injured in the explosions, none seriously.

Brennan Paterson, Nevada Department of Business and Industry's Industrial Relations Chief Administrative Officer, was quoted in the Gazette as saying that he cannot think of a similar occurance ever happening in the state. "Boilers are boring because they are safe," Paterson said.

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This week, the University Communications Office posted an updated FAQ about the explosions at its Nevada Today website. Below are excerpts specific to the boilers:

WHAT CAUSED THE EXPLOSIONS?
According to a statement from State Fire Marshal Bart Chambers delivered at a press conference on campus Tuesday, July 9, the explosion that occurred Friday, July 5, in Argenta Hall was “an isolated incident within the boiler room.”

A boiler technician arrived on campus at Argenta Hall Friday, July 5, in order to repair and replace a part on one of Argenta’s boilers, Boiler No. 1, which was having problems earlier in the week and had been shut down since then. The initial boiler explosion occurred between 12:42 and 12:44 p.m. A 3-inch gas line feeder was severed at the junction from the initial explosion with active fire from the line. The fire alarm system and automatic fire sprinkler system was activated. Occupants in the building evacuated. Fire from the initial explosion was extinguished by the building’s fire suppression system. Natural gas filled the basement area where the two boilers are located, and traveled to the upper portions of Argenta Hall. The main gas line was shut off from the exterior of the building. Following dispatch, Reno Fire Department arrived on scene. A second explosion occurred at approximately 1 p.m., causing significant damage to Argenta and Nye Hall, injuring eight people.

WAS THE BOILER IN ARGENTA HALL IN COMPLIANCE WITH STATE REGULATIONS?
As of today, the University does not have any active boiler or pressure-vessel issues with outstanding violations. Specifically, the two boilers in the boiler room of Argenta Hall were last inspected Jan. 10, 2018, by a state-certified third-party boiler inspection company. Both of these boilers are water-tube boilers and, as such, require inspection and permit every 24 months, meaning the permits expire Jan. 10, 2020.

Additionally, the Division of Industrial Relations shows no history of violations of these boilers located at Argenta Hall. The company that had conducted the inspections at Argenta Hall were licensed and certified with the State of Nevada.

WHAT MORE IS THE UNIVERSITY, ALONG WITH DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, DOING TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF RESIDENCE HALLS?
State Fire Marshal Chambers has directed his staff to address fire-life safety inspections of all dorms within the University, working side-by-side with the Division of Industrial Relations and the University, starting Thursday, July 11. Chambers said he is "committed to ensuring that the fire and life safety of those who are residing in these dorms and will partner with the University to also provide additional fire and life safety information to incoming and current students.”

More coverage of the explosion can be found here:

The Reno Gazette Journal

The University of Nevada Web Site

Nevada Today

 

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