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Students Treated For Burns As UWS High School Chemistry Experiment Goes Awry

The Beacon School (credit: beaconschool.org)

The Beacon School (credit: beaconschool.org)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Two students at an Upper West Side high school have been injured in an explosion during a chemistry class.

The accident happened just after 9 a.m. Thursday at the Beacon School on West 61st Street.

“It was insane. You would never expect it at Beacon,” 10th grader Max Burrough said.

As CBS 2′s John Slattery reported, the incident happened as a 10th grade chemistry teacher was conducting an experiment with colored chemicals in bowls.

“I’m shaking, I’m nervous,” said 10th grader Damaris Hernandez, who was in the classroom. “It was just a sudden explosion.”

A nervous parent came to pick up his daughter from school after she witnessed the explosion.

“She called me, she was distraught,” Miguel Hernandez told Slattery.

Fire officials said the teacher added alcohol to the chemicals and ignited them.

“The experiment went awry,” said fire chief Anthony Devita. “Two students were engulfed in a bit of a fireball from the reaction from with the chemicals.”

“I think she might have put too much and I just saw a huge fire,” 10th grader Jeremy Reynoso told Slattery. “Luckily, the kids at the front table were able to actually duck and get out of the way.”

Both injured students were taken to Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Fire Department says one student is in serious condition and the other suffered minor injuries.

Students identified one of the injured students as Alonzo Yanes, who suffered second-degree burns to the face, neck and arm, Slattery reported.

“I just looked up, I just saw him on fire. I was traumatized at the moment,” said Reynoso.

A girl suffered first-degree burns, Slattery reported.

Students said the teacher was rattled.

“She was definitely traumatized. Even when they were escorting people out of the classroom, she was just in shock,” said Reynoso.

The accident happened on the first day of school after the holiday break. Schools chancellor Carmen Farina spoke about the incident on the first day of her new role.

“I spoke to the parents of both of the students. Julia’s home. Alonzo is in the hospital and we anticipate he will do well but he is serious and both parents appreciated the call,” Farina said.

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