A week ago we brought you the news that a chemical gas explosion had injured employees at GM's Alternative Energy Center in Warren.

Five people were evacuated from the lab, and one employee remains in hospital following treatment for injuries resulting from the blast.

Now, Detroit News reports that damage from the explosion could total $5 million or more, with estimates varying pending a full fire investigation report.

The explosion was created by gases venting from an experimental battery pack, that became ignited inside the enclosed testing room. GM is currently investigating the source of the ignition, but admits it could be difficult, given the extent of the damage.

The room is known as an "abuse" room, where components would undergo intense tests unlikely to be faced in the real world.

The blast "ripped through an adjacent area causing massive damage, blowing open steel doors and blowing out windows", according to the police report.

A Warren Fire Department report estimated $3 million in damage, property losses of $1 million and contents of $2 million--but a more recent estimate puts the loss at closer to $3 million.

GM spokesman Greg Martin told reporters that the safety of employees was the first priority. "At this time, we do not have a specific dollar amount on the extent of damage, nor can we comment on the immediate estimates placed in reports filed on the same day of the incident," he added.

The 26 year old engineer injured in the blast is currently described as being in fair condition in hospital, after sustaining a head injury and displaying concussion-like symptoms.

We'll keep you updated on further developments and news from GM on the explosion, and the condition of the injured employee.


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