In Berkeley, a big fireball and a swimming pool that makes high schoolers lose body hair

Font Size:

It’s been a bad few days for Berkeley, Calif.

On Monday, a huge explosion ripped through through the air on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. The blast sent a giant fireball high into the air, injured four people and left some 20 people trapped in elevators for a couple hours, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Labs across the prestigious, sprawling campus were evacuated. A school-wide text message ordering students to evacuate campus was sent about eight minutes after the explosion, reports KGO-TV.

Power had gone out all over campus about two hours before the incident. The blast happened as power crews were attempting to bring back power.

Electricity has been largely restored, but Cal students have had a hard time because midterm exams start on Tuesday.

“I can’t study anymore,” frustrated student Suneesh Kaul told the ABC affiliate. “I don’t have a charge in my laptop. My phone’s out. It’s basically crazy.”

UC Berkeley officials believe the power outage and the subsequent explosion may be tied to a large-scale theft of copper wire from an electrical station near the campus.

As of the wee hours of Tuesday morning, it was not clear whether classes will be held as scheduled on Tuesday, notes the Times.

Meanwhile, the city government in Berkeley was forced to shut down the swimming pool at Berkeley High School last week because students using it have reported symptoms including the mysterious disappearance of their body hair.

Alarming levels of chemicals in the water are to blame, reports Berkeleyside, a local independent news site.

City officials ordered the pool closed after students on the water polo team and their parents complained about burning eyes, hair so bleached it has turned white and, in some instances, vanishing body hair.

The city sent someone to test the water in the pool. The results of the test showed a pH level of 8.5, which was “exponentially high.”

The problem was traced to a broken CO2 tank.

Parents aren’t happy.

“We didn’t want the pool closed,” one unidentified parent told Berkeleyside. “We don’t want to make a political issue out of it. We want a safe and healthy environment for our children.”

The same parent charged that the hair on his son’s arms and legs is now basically gone.

A new CO2 tank is on order and should arrive in a few days. Until then, water polo players don’t have a pool for practice or for matches.

City officials have promised to measure the chemical status of the pool three times a day forthwith. Also, an independent contractor will now evaluate the pool monthly.

Follow Eric on Twitter and send education-related story tips to