Monday, October 17, 2022

Chemistry class fire incident in Virginia results in burns and injuries

Via a Google News alert, this ABC News story from last week: 

Four students and a teacher were injured after a fire broke out during a chemistry class at a Virginia high school, officials said.

A possible fire in a chemistry classroom was reported Wednesday shortly before 9:30 a.m. at Dinwiddie County High School in Dinwiddie, located about 40 miles south of Richmond, fire officials said.

Three students who suffered burn injuries in the fire were transported to a Richmond hospital, including one by air medical helicopter, Dinwiddie Fire & EMS said. A fourth student was treated at the scene for a minor burn injury, and a teacher was later transported to a local hospital, also due to a burn injury, the department confirmed.

The UK's Daily Mail is reporting that it was a "methanol rocket" experiment based on reports from students:  

A science teacher and a pupil have been airlifted to hospital after creating a ‘methanol rocket’ in a chemistry lesson which exploded.

Students at Dinwiddie High School, in Virginia, described smelling ‘burning’ and ‘chemical fumes’ after the blast was sparked in a chemistry lab on Wednesday morning.

...a science teacher and football coach, was conducting an experiment for students using methanol to make a water bottle fly across the room with a flame.

But students in the classroom have claimed that when the stunt didn’t work initially, he added more of the gas before bringing the bottle towards the flame which is understood to have caused an explosion.

I think I will wait to make judgments about what actually caused the incident, but I regret that I believe this pattern to match other methanol-related incidents in the past 15 years. Here's hoping that we find out more information soon. 

Also, a infrequent reminder that in 2014, the American Chemical Society's Committee on Chemical Safety published a Safety Alert titled "Stop Using The Rainbow Demonstration."

1 comment:

  1. It'd be nice if chemistry teachers didn't feel compelled to set crap on fire to keep students' attention.


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