REEDSBURG — A chemical fire in a Reedsburg Area High School chemistry class injured three students and a teacher Monday.
The teacher and two of the students were transported to Reedsburg Area Medical Center with minor injuries, Reedsburg Ambulance Director Josh Kowalke said.
One of the students and the teacher then were taken to the University of Wisconsin Burn Center for further treatment.
Two of the students were back in school Tuesday, Principal Rob Taylor said. The teacher is at home recovering and one student is still in Madison. Officials would not confirm the name of the students or the teacher, but there is only one Chemistry II teacher, Corinne Fish, according to the district’s website.
Taylor said the experiment that caused the fire is one that has been done “literally hundreds of times” at the school over the years.
“It’s an experiment with salt and methanol that makes different-colored flames,” Taylor said. “For some reason, this time it caused a bigger flash than usual.”
Taylor said a student’s sweater caught fire, as did the teacher’s lab coat. Several students in the class called 911 while others contacted the front office. The school’s emergency response team, including associate principal Matt Terry and assistant principal Gary Syftestad, responded immediately.
“The team performed exactly like they should have,” Taylor said. “The girl dropped and rolled and then the teacher unselfishly put out the fire on the young lady while her own arm was still on fire.”
Each science lab is equipped with an emergency shower, fire extinguisher and fire blankets, all of which were used to help the teacher and students.
Kowalke said the fire was out by the time the ambulance service arrived. Three ambulances responded to the call.
District Administrator Tom Benson said there was no indication the accident was the fault of students or staff.
“It doesn’t appear that there was anything inappropriate,” Benson said. “A reaction occurred that was unexpected.”