Electrical explosion at Google’s data center causes injuries

Electrical explosion at Google’s data center causes injuries

A portion of a Google data center experienced an electrical explosion late Monday night, injuring workers in a small town outside of Omaha, Nebraska.

The explosion at the data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, caused injuries to three employees, local officials said.

“Three workers were accessing a switch cabinet when there was an arc flash that caused all three to be burned,” Justin James, the Council Bluffs fire chief, told CBS MoneyWatch. “All were taken to the trauma center for treatment.”

A company spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday that Google experienced outages in its search engine yesterday, but they stemmed from an “internal error” unrelated to the Iowa incident.

“We are aware of a software update issue that occurred late afternoon Pacific time that briefly impacted the availability of Google Search and Maps, and we apologize for the inconvenience,” said a Google spokesperson.

Data centers are large buildings that house dozens of supercomputers and servers that are typically used to store and process information that people generate as they work on their PCs. Google has 14 data centers across the US, including a second in the Omaha suburb of Papillion, Nebraska.

Arc flash is a sudden burst of light and heat that occurs when a strong electrical current flows through a conductor, misses its intended target, and lands on the ground. The heat given off by an arc can reach up to 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

First responders went to the Council Bluffs data center around midnight after being told there had been a “large explosion,” Council Bluffs deputy fire chief Jim Wood told the Omaha World-Herald.

The Council Bluffs data center was built in 2007 and now employs more than 900 people, according to the company’s website.

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Christopher J Brooks