Classes resumed today after an explosion disrupted the campus of the University California, Berkeley. The explosion, which originated in an underground utility vault located outside California Hall, occurred Monday at around 4:40 p.m., while electricians were working to return electrical service. The explosion resulted in at least four injuries; at least one of the injured parties was a student. As a result of the explosion, nearly twenty people were stuck in elevators and eleven buildings were without power. All trapped parties were removed from the elevators by 8:30 p.m.
The initial power outage, which electricians were working to rectify at the time of the explosion, was caused Sunday when vandals attempted to steal copper ground wires, which were part of the University’s power grid. The ground wires in question were part of an electrical substation located in a secluded part of the campus, according to a University spokesman. The vandalism appears to be sophisticated in nature, as heavy machinery would have been needed to pull the wires from the grid. This was UC Berkeley’s second utility vault explosion in the past two weeks.
This issue is multifaceted, but not necessarily one that is related. Underground utility vault explosions are not uncommon, albeit infrequent in most jurisdictions. The theft of copper is continually on the rise, as well. Lacking adequate information and with details of the investigation still pending, we cannot say if there is a direct correlation to the vandalism and the explosion.
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