Explosion at University of Missouri Medical School Linked to Blow Torch Igniting Natural Gas, Causes Millions in Damage

COLUMBIA, Mo. – A recent explosion and fire at the University of Missouri Medical School were believed to have been caused by a blowtorch igniting natural gas, as indicated by a fire report.

According to the report, the fire marshal estimated $5 million in property loss and $1 million in lost contents, but university officials are still assessing the overall damage. The incident, which involved three individuals, has been deemed accidental.

The fire is said to have originated on the seventh floor of the building while a worker was using an acetylene torch for copper tubing work. Another worker noticed the fire and attempted to extinguish it before evacuating himself and others on the floor.

One individual informed fire officials that contractors were utilizing a black acetylene tank to perform pipe repairs when the fire and explosion occurred suddenly. Firefighters encountered significant explosion damage on the seventh floor, with blown-out walls and doors.

Investigators discovered that natural gas had accumulated on the far eastern side of the seventh floor, seeping into the HVAC system ducts. The fire was sparked by the heat in the duct work during brazing, leading to the ignition of insulation. The combustion progressed until it met a pocket of accumulated natural gas, resulting in an explosion that consumed the remaining fuel.

Further investigation revealed inadequacies in the water pipe system, with missing sprinkler heads at the ends of piping and plugged, painted-over fittings. These findings shed light on potential safety oversights that may have contributed to the severity of the fire and explosion.

Efforts are ongoing to fully assess the extent of the damage and address any safety issues to prevent similar incidents in the future.