Düb evacuated due to electrical explosion

Students gather outside the du Bois center late Tuesday night after an electrical explosion was said to have ocurred in the building's basement, April 23.

Early reports indicated that the evacuation of the du Bois Center on Tuesday night was because of an electrical explosion, but the exact cause is still being investigated.

In a statement from Starship Technologies, spokesperson  Janel Steinberg said in an email that there was no explosion.

"[Starship] can confirm that a sprinkler system went off Tuesday evening as a precaution after a battery overheated at NAU. No robots were involved."

The cause for evacuation is still under investigation. The evacuation was called for after sulfur was emitted into the areas around where the disturbance was reported.

Witnesses speculated that the cause was from a Starship robot's battery, as a charging station is in the same area as the disturbance, but that has not been confirmed. 

Starship technologies denies that their robots were in anyway involved. 

“The area our department was called to contains lots of electrical wiring," Tritschler said. "At this time, the source of the explosion has not been finalized."

More information will be released as it is provided. 

Updated April 25

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The du Bois Center was fully evacuated on the evening of April 23 at around 8 p.m. when a worker reported an unidentified electrical explosion in the building’s basement.

Dining employee Alexis Lin said she was working her shift at Subway when everyone was ordered to evacuate the building.

“Officials announced that there was sulfur and other dangerous chemicals in the air due to an electrical burnout,” Lin said. “Everyone in the two-story building had to evacuate.”

Lin said students and staff were not permitted to re-enter the du Bois Center until 30 minutes after they had cleared the building.

Although the specific cause of the incident is unknown, Lin said she suspected that the electrical mishap may have resulted from the faulty battery of a Starship food delivery robot.

In order to recharge, Starship robots must insert themselves into charging stations. One of the charging stations is located near the area in which the explosion occurred.

NAUPD Sergeant Joe Tritchler was wary to confirm that the explosion was due to a defective robot battery.

“The area our department was called to contains lots of electrical wiring," Tritschler said. "At this time, the source of the explosion has not been finalized."

More information will be released as it is provided.

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NAUPD released an investigation report on May 1, stating that an officer was dispatched to the Dubois Center at approximately 8 p.m. on April 23.

The officer went to the basement and made contact with a group of students, who said that they were working in a room in the basement. 

The batteries for the delivery robots are stored in this room, and the students said that one of the batteries exploded, causing a fire. 

Although nobody was injured, the room where the batteries were stored was flooding due to the fire sprinklers. According to the report, surrounding offices were flooding as well. 

The fire department and fire life safety arrived to deactivate the the sprinkler system and shut off the electricity to ensure that no other batteries would explode.

According to the report, fire life safety told the responding officer that they were getting a restoration crew to fix the damage done to the room.

Updated May 1

 

 

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