EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was published on Dec. 1, 2011.
MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) — Four students were transported to the Hennepin County Medical Center for burns after a methanol experiment blew up at Maple Grove Junior High.
All the students, ninth graders, are currently in satisfactory condition. The experiment was being conducted by their ninth grade science teacher, Mr. Matt Achor.
Authorities say Achor was performing an experiment with a flammable liquid when the accident happened. It is not clear if the students suffered chemical burns or were burned by fire.
Fifteen-year-old Dane Neuberger got the worst of it and was still being treated at HCMC Thursday afternoon.
“My face was actually on fire,” said Neuberger.
Neuberger had a front seat to the demonstration when he said his teacher lit a match. Three other students surrounded him.
“He just took a jug of menthol and dropped a match in there. That’s like the last I know,” he said.
He said his face, neck and hand were all burned by fire. His teacher stopped it from spreading by using a fire blanket.
“I started screaming and he was on me fast to put the fire out and my shirt and face were on fire,” Neuberger said.
Some papers also started on fire, but Neuberger says they were put out with an extinguisher.
“We have crisis plans in place. We implement plans as it happens. We’re doing everything we can to bring the school back to normal,” said Barbara Olson, spokesperson of Osseo Area Schools.
The experiment was supposed to be a reward for the class for doing so well.
“When we got here he looked much, much worse, and you’re just beside yourself,” said Gus Neuberger, Dane’s dad.
He said he hopes the school learns a lesson.
“Some actual policy changes with some safety in the classroom with these experiments,” he said.
According to school officials, police and fire units were dispatched to the school to attempt to vent the room where the experiment took place.
Only the classroom where the incident occurred was evacuated. Authorities say neither the sprinklers or the fire alarms went off inside the classroom. The fire was put out with a blanket and fire extinguisher that is kept in the classroom.
No other classrooms were affected and school continued as planned. The other students who were in the classroom but were not harmed were sent home for the day, according to school officials.
Neuberger said his teacher did apologize as he waited for an ambulance.
The fire chief is investigating, but classes will go on as normal.
The school is located at 7000 Hemlock Lane in Maple Grove. Crisis managers were available at the school for students.