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Electrical fault temporarily closes IARC building

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: (907) 474-7902


A small electrical fire at the Akasofu Building, which houses the International Arctic Research Center, has closed the building temporarily while crews work on cleanup and repair.

The fire was confined to the electrical room on the first floor and was the result of an electrical fault--an arc flash--in the building's main distribution panel at about 11:30 p.m. on Monday, May 28. An arc flash typically happens when electrical insulation is broken or can no longer withstand the voltage running through the wires underneath it.

The fire went out on its own almost immediately. Fire and smoke damage is minimal, though most of the building has been without power since the incident. The cause of the electrical fault is still unknown.

A maintenance crew from UAF Facilities Services had been working on the electrical system since about 2 p.m. on Monday, after reports of power outages in the building. Three workers were in the electrical room when the arc flash occurred. All of the workers safely exited the room. There were no injuries. Crews from the University Fire Department responded and cleared smoke from the first floor of the building.

Most of the building's employees were told not to come to work on Tuesday, May 29, due to the blackout. Some key staff set up offices in the Geophysical Institute to answer questions from employees and the public. The IARC main phone line, (907) 474-1584, was forwarded to their temporary offices.

Facilities Services crews, along with an electrical contractor, were working on cleaning and repairing the main distribution panel on Tuesday.

Editors: A photo of the main distribution panel is available on request.