A Blast, But Not a Bomb, at Pennsylvania Hospital

Philadelphia police responded to accidental blast, on edge and lookout for terror


A "suspicious device" that was later determined to be a commercial power pack exploded on a patient floor at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania yesterday afternoon (Aug. 5, 2005), injuring a nurse and flooding the area with police and fire officials who initially feared it might be a bomb.

Rescue crews sealed off the Silverstein Building at 34th and Spruce Streets about 1:30 p.m. and evacuated three patients from the 12th floor. The nurse, whom police and hospital officials did not identify, sustained minor burns on her arms.

"We were concerned it was an explosive device," Philadelphia Police Department Chief Inspector Joe O'Connor said.

Lt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, head of the department's bomb unit, said the power pack consisted of a number of batteries linked together.

"We think it accidentally came in contact with a heat source," he said.

Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson and Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers both went to the scene, as did the head of the Police Department's homeland-security unit, Capt. Walt Smith.

"We look for terrorism, with everything that's going on," Smith said. "You always have to look at areas where there are large amounts of people."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press