Air Force Climatic Lab Blows Up


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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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An explosion at the U.S. Air Force McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida Wednesday morning prompted officials to evacuate the surrounding area and set up a 1,000 foot perimeter around the lab.

No significant injuries have been reported. The cause of the blast is still under investigation, according to the Eglin Base Twitter account.

Thick clouds of smoke poured out of the building immediately after the blast. A shelter-in-place order was issued and buildings in the surrounding area were advised to turn off HVAC units because of possible toxic chemicals in the air.

CBS News tweeted out video and pictures of the towering cloud of smoke.

A store of methyl chloride, previously used as a refrigerant until it was found to be toxic, was close to the facility before the explosion. Early reports said the smoke was from the burning toxic chemical, but later reports said that methyl chloride presence in the fumes wasn’t confirmed.

McKinley Climatic Laboratory includes the largest environmental chamber in the world. The Air Force uses the chamber to test extreme climates on machinery from missile launchers to planes.

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