Source: Steve Galitzer, 785-532-5856, galitz@k-state.edu

News release prepared by: Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, 785-532-1543, ebarcomb@k-state.edu

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Laboratory worker extinguishes small flame in Ward Hall

A Kansas State University laboratory technician extinguished a small flame that sprang from an experiment in a controlled environment. No one was injured.

The technician was working with lithium, a metal that the laboratory has worked with for several years. The batch came from a company different than the one the laboratory had worked with previously.

The worker was going through the normal process for the experiment, which is to weigh out the lithium in an oxygen-free environment. This is done in argon gas using a contraption known as a glove box. When the worker was taking the material from one lab to another to begin work, the lithium caught on fire.

The fire call came in at 10:45 a.m. The worker was able to extinguish the flame with a fire extinguisher. The building was evacuated, and the Manhattan Fire Department arrived to help with clean-up. The flame caused no major damage to the laboratory. A few floor tiles were damaged but will be replaced, said Steve Galitzer, director of the department of environmental health and safety.

Ward Hall contains shops, laboratories, offices and classrooms for nuclear engineering education and research.