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E.E. Smith High School students injured in explosion

Posted October 25, 2011

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— E.E. Smith High School in Fayetteville was evacuated Tuesday afternoon after an experiment in the chemistry lab exploded, police said. 

Several students were injured while doing an experiment involving potassium nitrate and sugar in an Advanced Placement chemistry class, Cumberland County Schools spokesperson Renarta Moyd said. The students were heating the chemicals on a hot plate and bringing it outside when it prematurely ignited. 

Two students were taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and one was taken to Womack Army Medical Center.

A fourth student told WRAL News that she was treated at the scene for a burn on her wrist. Her classmates had more serious injuries, including burns to the face, arm and leg.

Rayshawn Dorsey, who took the AP chemistry class last year, said the experiment was supposed to produce smoke and not a flame. He believes the group used too much potassium nitrate.

Fayetteville police Explosion evacuates E.E. Smith High School

There was minimal damage inside the school. 

The school was evacuated as a precaution. Buses transported most students home and parents picking up their children were asked to wait inside their cars. 

A hazmat crew decontaminated the area. 

36 Comments

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  • Ambygirl Oct 26, 2011

    artist-- You are absoulutely right!! We are doomed....it's amazing how coddled our youth of today are..... I couldn't help but laugh at your comment because it is so true. And as wildcat said, I'm sure it scared the daylights out of them.

  • mrsbowen Oct 26, 2011

    Measure twice, light once!

  • NCStatePack Oct 26, 2011

    "This is why we are doomed.

    20 years ago... we would have laughed at each other.. and the teacher would have yelled: "pay attention to what you are doing and clean that mess up!""

    Maybe you missed the part about the students being burned in the face. I think even a tough guy like you wouldn't have laughed at that "back in the day".

  • wildcat Oct 26, 2011

    Where was the instruction in all of this chaos? I do hope the students will be OK in time. I know it scared the day lights out of them.

  • hckyplyr72 Oct 26, 2011

    This is news? We blew stuff up all the time in AP chemistry. Guess thinks have changed since the late 80's! FEAR FEAR FEAR dolts

  • artist Oct 26, 2011

    This is why we are doomed.

    20 years ago... we would have laughed at each other.. and the teacher would have yelled: "pay attention to what you are doing and clean that mess up!"

    Today:

    The school was evacuated as a precaution. Buses transported most students home and parents picking up their children were asked to wait inside their cars. A hazmat crew decontaminated the area.

    Probably cost $50k yesterday afternoon.

    We are doomed by our own fears.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Oct 26, 2011

    We can't keep dumbing down the education system because of an accident. I hope they are okay. We should be thinking about how we can make the same educational experiences safer. I wonder why they were carrying it outside half done. Why not take a hot plate and the other stuff you need outside and do it all out there?

  • kikinc Oct 26, 2011

    Unfortunately, most chemistry lab accidents occur b/c of carelessness. I was working with those chemicals in AP Chemistry about 14 years ago. Correct measurements are key. It's like baking. If you don't go by the recipe exactly, your baked goods don't always come out okay.

    I hope the students recover. It's definitely a scary thing. Saw something like that happen in college. A girl took a small explosion to the face. Made me appreciate my ugly goggles even more!

  • pulstar40 Oct 26, 2011

    Hopefully the students will recover quickly, especially those with burns to the face. I wish for no lasting scars, both physical and mental.

  • dwr1964 Oct 26, 2011

    Why were students experimenting with Potassium Nitrate and sugar? Those compounds are used by insurgents to make Home Made Explosives.
    johnsod27330

    WOW!!!! From a simple high school chemistry assignment to insurgents in just 25 comments. Remember, insurgents use gasoline. So do you. If I make the connection quick enough, you will be sent to Gitmo right along with real insurgents.

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