Explosion in gym leaves one injured

An explosion during routine boiler maintenance in the Patrick Gym complex left one University employee with a head injury, Burlington assistant fire marshal Tom Middleton said.An investigation into the caue of the blast is onging, Middleton said.One of three physical employees was behind a boiler inspection window when a heavy metal rear access door blew open, Enrique Corredera, Director of University Communications, said.”The employee was standing behind the boiler as the door blew open and it landed on his head,” Corredera said. “He was conscious when transported by UVM rescue to Fletcher Allen.” He is now in stable condition.The explosion, which happened around 10:30 a.m., created a large bang that sounded like thunder, junior Chris Shackett said.”I was in the room right above the boilers when our desks shook and we heard something that sounded like thunder and lightning,” Shackett said.”I heard the crash of metal hitting the floor,” maintenance specialist Rick DeVoid said. “Then I ran upstairs and called 911 as the area filled with the smell of fuel.”Cordera said that asbestos-covered pipes in the boiler room were disturbed by the explosion and state hazardous materials specialists were on their way to take an air sample, assessing the possibility of asbestos air contamination.Middleton said that the Burlington Fire Department and University personnel were making every effort to reduce exposure to the asbestos, which could have traveled into the pool areas, racquetball courts and Patrick Gym auditorium.The cause of the explosion has yet to be determined, Cordera said.”I’ve taken extensive digital photographs of the scene,” Middleton said. “With these, we’ll hopefully determine exactly what happened when the state team arrives.”The University feels there is no reason to believe anyone who was not in the boiler room has been exposed, according to a University press release.Middleton said that once he and the state team are satisfied, they will turn the scene over to the University, but it is too soon to tell how long it will take.Portions of the gym complex are cordoned off, while the majority of the building remains open for use, Cordera said.