Chemistry Fire Burns 4 Students, Teacher at Virginia High School

Failed Chemistry Demonstrations Cause Serious Burns

A failed chemistry experiment injured four students and one teacher at Dinwiddie High School in Virginia. Fire crews arrived at the school after a student pulled the fire alarm when a chemistry experiment went wrong. The fire broke out when a science teacher was attempting to demonstrate how chemical reactions work during second-period chemistry class.

Three students were taken to VCU Medical Center in Richmond, one of which was transported by air ambulance with serious burns. A fourth student was treated at the scene. The teacher was transported to a local hospital.

One student told local news reporters that the incident felt like an earthquake. Many students reported smelling chemicals after the fire. Dinwiddie High School senior Bethanee Piland told WDBJ News that the fire broke out when her teacher started demonstrating chemical reactions by pouring chemicals into a container of water. She said, “It really traumatized me seeing my friends on fire.” Bethanee, who was sitting in the second row, suffered a minor burn injury on her leg.

Dinwiddie County Fire and EMS says the incident is under investigation to determine the exact chain of events leading up to the fire.

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Failed School Science Experiments Cause Burn Injuries

When safety protocols are not followed during school science experiments and a fire breaks out, students are at risk for burn injuries.

If your child was burned in a fire at school, you may be able to file a child burn injury lawsuit against the school district and any other responsible parties.

Over the past decade, there have been dozens of fires linked to school science experiments. A chemistry demonstration called the rainbow flame is especially dangerous. The rainbow flame demonstration involves pouring flammable liquid on a lab table and adding salts to show how the flames change colors. In 2014, the American Chemical Association issued a safety alert advising teachers against using the rainbow flame demonstration. Despite the safety warnings from experts and educators, incidents still happen.

Recent School Fires from Chemistry Demonstrations

  • Two teenagers suffered burn injuries during a chemistry explosion at Western Builford High School in Greensboro, NC.
  • In 2017, six children were burned during a failed rainbow flame demonstration at a Texas preschool.
  • Five students suffered burn injuries in 2015 from a fire started by the rainbow flame demonstration at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, VA. A safety investigation found that the demonstration was performed without a ventilation hood, safety goggles, or training from the school.

Experienced Burn Injury Legal Team

Pritzker Hageman’s burn injury legal team has over 40 years of experience representing burn survivors and their families in fire lawsuits. Our lawyers help fire injury clients get the justice and compensation they deserve in cases across the country. For a free consultation with our burn injury legal team, please call 1-888-377-8900, text 612-261-0856, or fill out the form below.