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CDC building closed Wednesday after fire | News

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CDC building closed Wednesday after fire
CDC building closed Wednesday after fire

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- No one was hurt when a fire broke out inside the Rubella lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday night.

CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said the fire started at around midnight in Building 18. The building will remain closed Wednesday.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Skinner said it may have been started by a malfunctioning piece of sterilization equipment.

Building 18 houses about 470 CDC employees. In addition to Rubella, scientists work on measles, mumps, HIV, meningitis, hepatitis and norovirus inside its labs. Skinner said there was no release or loss of containment of any germs in the fire.

Sprinklers put out the fire, but damaged much of the gear.

The fire happened just one week after a CDC-commissioned independent report blasted the center's security standards, saying "Safety is not integrated into strategic planning and is not currently part of the CDC culture. We are very concerned that the CDC is on the way to losing credibility."

Skinner said that measures have been taken to increase safety and security.

"We're doing additional training of our scientists, we're putting cameras in the labs," said Skinner.

Last June, the CDC discovered some of its employees could have been exposed to Anthrax. In December several other employees were exposed to Ebola.

"CDC should be the standard bearer when it comes to laboratory safety, and that's what we're striving to accomplish here," Skinner said.