Electrical explosion reported at Google's Iowa data centre

Google sign above a glass entrance to a building
(Image credit: Google)

Three Google electricians have been taken to hospital after suffering serious burns in an electrical explosion at one of the company's US data centres.

Local police reported that the incident took place at 11:59 (local time) on Monday, at the Council Bluffs facility in Iowa, according to US news site SFGATE.

One of the workers was airlifted to a medical centre in Nebraska, while the other two were taken in an ambulance. The three were working on a substation close to the main building when an arc flash occurred. This is a type of electrical explosion of heat and light that happens via a discharge in an electrical system. All three electricians are said to have suffered "significant burns" during the incident.

"We are aware of an electrical incident that took place today at Google's data centre in Council Bluffs, Iowa, injuring three people on site who are now being treated," a Google spokesperson said. "The health and safety of all workers is our absolute top priority, and we are working closely with partners and local authorities to thoroughly investigate the situation and provide assistance as needed."

After the incident, Google users across the US, Australia and Asia reported an outage, though it hasn't specifically been liked to the explosion and the time of the outage doesn't necessarily correlate with the electrical explosion in Iowa. Services including Gmail, Search and Maps were unavailable for a "brief" period, according to Google, with an issue with a software update cited as the reason.

Google has 14 data centres in the US with more planned over the next few years. The facility in Iowa is one of its largest and was opened in 2009. This is the second incident reported at a Google data centre within the last four weeks with a London facility reportedly shut down during the recent heatwave in the UK.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognise him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.