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Oh no, not again

See this? That's where I work, that is. Fortunately, it's not the building that I work in, but the building next door which holds the electronics half of the department. ias and I drove up to see where all the smoke was coming from before we actually knew any details. Looks like the School of Electronics and Computer Science has lost the entirety of its microchip and fibre optic fabrication facility, which was the leading such facility in a UK university.

No details yet as to how the fire started, but there were at least sixteen appliances present, from as far afield as Portchester. There had been some reports of explosions, which is unsurprising given the amount of compressed gases used in the building. Advice to local residents (chiefly the Flowers estate area of Bassett Green) is to keep their windows closed because the smoke may be toxic. I'll say - there's some dead nasty stuff used in chip fabs. Wouldn't be surprised if there were radioactive sources as well, come to think of it.

On the plus side, I don't think that many people had offices in that half of the Mountbatten building, but the reports that the fire brigade had been spraying the adjacent buildings (probably including Zepler, where my office is) because they'd been starting to scorch is worrying. The power is out to all of ECS, so I've not been able to get at my email, but we've got good disaster recovery plans for data, and I've thankfully got the laptop at home.

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According to the reports on Radio Solent yesterday, Mountbatten was a "brand-new building". That'll be brand-new of the built-in-1989 variety, then.

But yes, much suckage. If we'd lost Zepler as well, it would have been even worse, so there's some comfort there. Also, the university has always managed to rebuild extremely well; when the laser lab burned down in the 1960s, it was replaced by the Optoelectronics Research Centre, and when the High Voltage Lab burned down a few years ago, the replacement had much better facilities.

In the shorter term, Jules, Tim and the rest of the systems staff are going to have their work cut out for them...

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