Smoke cleared from Fort Detrick building 10 hours after blaze

By DANIEL J. GROSS | The Frederick News-Post, Md. | Published: August 16, 2013

FORT DETRICK, Md. — The smoke has settled after a two-alarm fire broke out Wednesday at an Army lab under construction at Fort Detrick, garrison spokeswoman Lanessa Hill said.

Fire crews at Fort Detrick and responders from Frederick County were called to the new U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at about 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The blaze on the building’s second floor was extinguished at about 2:15 p.m., though smoke lingered throughout the day.

Hill said crews finished clearing the smoke and ventilating the building by 1 a.m. Thursday.

“It’s a construction site and a containment lab, so the walls are 18-inch concrete walls,” Hill said.

A working HVAC system is not yet installed in the building, which also made ventilation more difficult, she said.

The new building will provide more than 800,000 square feet for the research group and is valued at $680 million.

Two construction workers were taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation Wednesday. They have since been released, Hill said.

The cause of the blaze is still being investigated, Hill said, and a damage estimate will likely be available soon.

Stacy Ouellette, a spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said there hasn’t yet been a determination on whether the damage will affect the building’s completion date, currently set for December 2014.

“The investigation is still ongoing. We’ll have to look at the investigation and what caused the fire as well as what’s been damaged first,” she said.

Staff writer Cara R. Anthony contributed to this report.


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