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Explosion injures 3 at Agilent facility in Santa Rosa

The incident occurred when an employee was cleaning an MBE machine and there was a chemical flash.

An explosion at the Agilent Technologies facility in Santa Rosa on Tuesday morning left three people injured and prompted about 100 employees to evacuate the building, according to the media outlet to MercuryNews.com.

The explosion happened at about 10:30 a.m. in Building One at the facility, located at 1400 Fountaingrove Parkway. It occurred in a ground-floor laboratory, in an area where integrated circuits are made using MBE, said Jeff Weber, spokesman for Santa Clara-based Agilent.

The explosion injured two employees, a man who was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with critical injuries and a woman with minor injuries who was later taken by private car to Kaiser Hospital.

The man was cleaning a machine when there was a chemical flash, Weber said. He said cleaning the machine generally involves wearing a protective body suit, but he did not know whether the man was wearing one on Tuesday morning.

According to Weber, the woman, a contract employee from Volt, was injured when something fell and hit her on the head outside the laboratory.

A Santa Rosa firefighter who was one of the first to respond to the incident also was injured and was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Fire Inspector Marita Petersen said. She did not know his condition.

About six engines from the Santa Rosa Fire Department were dispatched to the scene. Rincon Valley Fire Department offered mutual aid, with four fire engines, one truck and two chief officers.

Agilent's own chemical emergency response team also responded. No flames were found, but there was some damage to the laboratory, Weber said.

The explosion's cause is under investigation. There were about eight chemicals involved, Petersen said. She did not know what those chemicals were.

However, speculation from other media sources indicates that phosphorus was the major culprit.

It is not clear whether staff will be returning to work today. People working in the company's other three buildings at the facility were unaffected.
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