A fire was reported at approximately 2 p.m., Aug. 14, at the construction site for what will be the new home to the new biosafety level-4 laboratory for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases on Fort Detrick.
The Fort Detrick fire department, in addition to units from Frederick County, responded to the two-alarm blaze, extinguishing the fire in less than 30 minutes. Smoke was cleared from the building by 1 a.m., Aug. 15.
Two contractors working as a part of the construction efforts were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and transported to Frederick Memorial Hospital for further evaluation. Both were treated and released.
The Fort Detrick fire department began an investigation Aug. 14 for the cause of the fire, and to assess damage to the building. Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported extensive damage occurred in the south half of the future BSL-4 laboratory. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, provides construction oversight for the project.
“Safety is our number one priority at every construction site. Our goal is to learn why this happened and to review procedures to ensure that it does not occur again,” said Clem Gaines, public affairs officer for USACE, Baltimore District.
“Investigators from the contractor, Manhattan-Torcon JV, and the Fort Detrick Fire Department are conducting an investigation as well as Frederick County officials and the Maryland State Fire Marshall’s office,” Gaines said.
Construction for the $653 million, 835,000 square foot facility, began in June 2009, and will continue on other portions of the project according to Gaines.
“We cannot estimate, at this time, if this incident will impact the estimated December 2014 completion of the project,” he said.