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City of Alexandria, VA City of Alexandria, VA
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Page updated May 4, 2009 6:10 PM

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Explosion Causes Damage to Building; No Injuries Reported

May 4, 2009

News Highlights:

  • Explosion caused by overpressurization of test cannon inside BAE Systems facility, located in same building as Happy Home Child Learning Center
  • Explosion caused building to shake, interior non-load bearing walls to shift, ceiling tiles to fall
  • Seventy-one children and 15 adults were evacuated from the day care center; no injuries were reported

Today, at approximately 11:11 a.m., Alexandria Fire and Police responded to BAE Systems and the Happy Home Child Learning Center (affiliated with Shiloh Baptist Church), located in the same building in the 1400 block of Duke Street, for an explosion that caused the building to shake, interior non-load bearing walls to shift, and ceiling tiles to fall.

The explosion or blast was caused by the over-pressurization of a test cannon being tested inside the BAE Systems facility. Seventy-one children and 15 adults were evacuated across the street to Shiloh Baptist Church. There were no injuries reported.

The cause of the overpressure is still under investigation by members of the Fire Marshal’s office. No damage assessment has been determined. The 900 to 1200 blocks of Duke Street were closed in both directions for an hour and a half. Power to the building has been shut down until an inspection of the electrical system is completed.

The City of Alexandria Office of Building and Fire Code Administration has launched an investigation of BAE Systems, a research company, for its compliance with City Code. The building is closed and neither business is operating pending completion of the investigation.

For more information, contact Tony Castrilli, Director of Communications, at 703.838.3872 or