Emergency responders were called to Smith Hall on the east bank of the University of Minnesota Tuesday afternoon after a small explosion in a chemistry lab injured one person.
Officials evacuated Smith Hall shortly afterwards.
The explosion was limited to one lab on Smith Hall's fourth floor and didn't include a fire, university spokesman Chuck Tombarge said. U officials believe the explosion was caused by an organic compound, he added.
"There are a lot of safety precautions," he said. "Our hope is that this never occurs, but accidents do occur so certainly our thoughts are with that individual who was injured at the time."
The current condition of the victim is unknown. The Minneapolis Fire Department said the victim was conscious with serious burns when emergency officials arrived.
Crews evacuated about 50 people from the building, monitored for hazards and sealed the laboratory, but there was no reported fire or structural damage as a result of the explosion, the department said in a statement.
William Tolman, chair of the Department of Chemistry, said the victim was a post-doctoral research student. He said the student's sides and arms were injured by shards of broken glass.
Tolman said they're not yet sure exactly what caused the explosion, but that it could be a compound called trimethylsilyl azide.
"Evidently he was trying to distill it, which is a hazardous procedure — it blew up," Tolman said. "It has all the signs of that type of explosion, not a fire type of explosion but a percussive type of explosion."
There was some damage to equipment in the lab, Tolman said.