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Eglin AFB Evacuated; No Injuries Following Explosion At McKinley Climatic Lab

Jessica Williams
Eglin Air Force Base McKinley Climatic Lab July 5, 2017

At approximately 10 a.m. Wednesday, a fire and explosion occurred at McKinley Climatic Lab at Eglin Air Force Base.

Eglin officials say there were no “significant injuries” reported.

The explosion, which occurred in a support building near the lab, resulted in a huge plume of black smoke. Officials initially identified the source of the smoke as methyl chloride.

People on base were advised to avoid the smoke if possible. In response, a 1,000-foot cordon was established, and the surrounding area was evacuated. Workers in the area of Eglin Boulevard and Van Matre were ordered to shelter in place.

A post on Eglin’s Facebook page, indicated that the smoke could be smelled in Niceville across the bayou. Eglin officials said the smoke visible did not pose a
health hazard to the general public.

Within a couple hours of the incident, the plume had dissipated. The shelter-in-place was lifted and buildings were cleared to turn air conditioning systems back on.

According to a news release from Okaloosa County, as of 12:30 p.m., officials listed the situation as under control, with no threat posed to any municipalities outside Eglin Force Base.

To clarify, Eglin Public Affairs says it has not been determined that the smoke contained the potentially hazardous methyl chloride. However, the incident occurred in an area within close proximity of the chemical.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation.

Further information is available at www.eglin.af.mil.

Sandra Averhart has been News Director at WUWF since 1996. Her first job in broadcasting was with (then) Pensacola radio station WOWW107-FM, where she worked 11 years. Sandra, who is a native of Pensacola, earned her B.S. in Communication from Florida State University.