Fire damages space suits

March 3, 2008 3:09:19 PM PST
Authorities say a fire at a manufacturing facility that provides materials to NASA damaged two spacesuits valued at more than one million dollars each. The fire broke out Friday at the ILC Dover Inc. plant near Frederica. The state fire marshal's office has determined that a heating coil inside a water tank used to test spacesuit material malfunctioned, igniting the tank's insulation.

Eighteen people inside the testing lab were evacuated amid concerns about dangerous gases, and four firefighters were taken to a hospital for observation as a precaution.

Officials do not have an overall damage estimate, but investigators have determined that two spacesuits were damaged.

Chief deputy state fire marshal Scott Bullock says one suit was burned, and the other sustained smoke damage.

ILC spokesman Doug Durney says the suits are used only for testing and evaluation. He says they received only minor damage and should be back in service this week.