Sector67 Hackerspace Rocked By Explosion At New Location

Photo by Todd Bakken

Madison, WI hackerspace Sector67 is in a period of transition as they move from their current rented location to a new property that will be their permanent home a half mile away. Last Wednesday (September 20, 2017) an unfortunate propane explosion in the new building led to the injury of Chris Meyer, the founder and director of the hackerspace.

The structure has been stabilized and renovation is continuing, but Chris was seriously burned and will be in the hospital for at least a month with a much longer road to complete recovery. It is fortunate that nobody else was injured.

This accident comes at a time when Sector67 essentially has two spaces to maintain; the existing space is still running, but many of the members are focused on the construction of the new space. The building needs significant work before the move can take place. Currently the roof is being raised so that the building can go from one awkward-height story to two normal stories, doubling the size. An expiring lease and imminent demolition of the current location by developers means the clock is still ticking on the move, and this explosion means Sector67 will have to work even harder, and without the presence and constant effort of the person who has been leading the project.

A GoFundMe campaign for Sector67 has been started and is well on its way towards helping Chris and Sector67.

32 thoughts on “Sector67 Hackerspace Rocked By Explosion At New Location

  1. It’s great that people are raising money for the hacker space, but I’m left wondering (maybe due to the media projecting it how they want to) that in america, if something bad happens to you like this, you’re basically screwed in all sorts of ways.

    I hope Chris makes a speedy and safe recovery, but I also hope that he’s not forgotten simply because he’s not there at the front line – It may well be that he has a understanding employer, and good insurance, but if not, I hope that he also is given some help.

  2. So digging down 2 articles to find the cause of the explosion, they’re blaming a falling beam?

    Sounds like some poor planning on someones part.
    Another reminder to store gas cylinders safely.

    1. And you probably don’t see any merit in sending aid to victims of 3rd world disasters e.g. earthquake, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis… because they choose to live in dangerous locations?

      1. When much younger and while in military, was sent in as part of technical support (com) and security for a disaster-relief project. We heard that the Red Cross has collect many dollars, but never saw them; and much the same for other donation campaigns for some other NGOs. The most effective organization seen was Doctors Without Borders – provided both logistics coordination and the direct medical support.

        Too many scams and never enough of the correct type of aid reaching victims. Give only to small organizations that actually have sent people and materials to the disaster site. My list of worthy charities does not, and will not, include the Red Cross.

          1. A bit of a side line, but on the note of charities. If they’re offering to raise money for a cause, The American Legion, and Sons/Daughters of the American Legion are good. On the local level, 100% volunteers. I’ve raised money with them, and was a treasurer for a few years at a local branch. Aside from printing costs for flyer advertising, and other costs of the like, at least with our section of the organization, 100% of collected funds above absolute necessary costs went to the intended recipients.

        1. I read similar comments about the Red Cross, so there must be some truth to it. However, when our house and neighborhood was hit by a tornado, the Red Cross was right there and provided a lot of help to us and our neighbors. I’m not sure what to think…

          1. Donations to the Red Cross support ALL of the work the Red Cross does, and the breadth of operations is wider than the one instance you personally have interest and motivation enough to donate because of. It’s the one organization you can donate your time and funds to and be certain your efforts will have an impact to the benefit and betterment of us all.

            How many have CPR training?
            First Aid training?
            How many have needed blood?
            Have you experienced a disaster?
            How many have donated blood?

            Did you volunteer YOUR time?

            You may donate because of a particular hurricane or tornado… but your donation came after the disaster and took some time to process… funds collected today go to the disaster coming tomorrow. Yesterday’s donation funds today’s relief efforts. Funds needed outweigh the funds donated. Thus, to you and I it will naturally always appear weak, late, and insufficient because what we donated was as well.

          2. Biomed has a good point, I hadn’t thought of it quite like that. I do know that Red Cross has helped us here in Kokomo greatly and I’m happy to donate to them (just did yesterday as a matter of fact). I’ve done everything in his list except needing blood.

    2. The insurance is there. But the money being raised is to continue a project that was being led by someone that cares enough about his hacker community to put in thousands of unpaid man hours. Perhaps reading a little more about the situation before posting would enlighten you? Unless you’re one of those people that enjoys their ignorance. Then do as you will.

        1. Well, I mean… did you feel better after implying people shouldn’t give money to this cause? You raised a fair question, but the link does explain that Chris was throwing a superhuman amount of time and skill at this move, and the project is on a deadline with the old space getting demolished soon. And I think anyone that know what he’s done for the community and how this could impact Sector are going to be defensive.

  3. I see this as the primary issue with shared space. I use propane for all kinds of things, as well as a lot of other things that could go poof or boom. I have my own protocols for what I consider safe, and my ass is the only ass that is ever required to be in any of my structures so that works real well. I am not sure I would feel comfortable with other people using their own protocols for potentially dangerous things if I had to be in there next to them. And I am definitely not a safety nazi. However in a shared space the rules need to be tight, and that in itself seems to violet the very premise of a hacker space.

    For me, I muchly prefer my own tools, my own rules, and my own spaces. If I go boom I got no one to blame but myself.

    1. Ehh, we all have to make sacrifices to appease the insurance agents. Storage of flammable (and pressure vessels)should be done correctly whether or not you’re the only one at risk. It’s not really that hard.
      Aside from that, knowing the risks and doing everything to mitigate them isn’t really counter to the hacker ethos in my mind.

      Details are sparse but this accident sounds like the people doing the construction are to blame (through negligence; no idea if they’re also members) they either jacked the building up too fast or didn’t move things away from the work area. Beams don’t normally fall on their own.

      I share your frustration of shared spaces. With dues (30-50/mo is roughly average last I checked) and hassle sometimes it’s just worth it to save for your own tools and stay home. But not everyone has the space to work in, there’s also the social aspect that can be nice.

    1. Chris has made a recovery, though he is still wearing special clothing. He was out of the hospital after a month and was doing light work shortly after that. Sector67 recently got occupancy, and has been having monthly meetings for the last two months. The roof was successfully raised, new walls put in, a second floor added, plumbing, electricity, a lot has happened in the last year, thanks to Chris’s work and the many volunteers who have put in a lot of hours. There’s still a long way to go, but Sector67 has successfully moved into this new building and people are making stuff again.

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