Experiment goes up in smoke

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, October 27, 2012

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CLEARING THE WAY – Decatur firefighters check a classroom Friday at McCarroll Middle School. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Decatur’s McCarroll Middle School students were temporarily evacuated Friday morning after a science experiment went wrong.

Principal Dewayne Tamplen said eighth graders were preparing a demonstration for the sixth graders just before 9 a.m. when the chemicals reacted in an unexpected way, filling the science lab with smoke.

Students and staff were immediately moved to the Multipurpose Building, between the middle school and the sixth grade campus.

Tamplen said the class is studying chemical changes.

“They mixed sugar together with another product, and it flared up on them,” he said. “It usually makes carbon, a gooey, black substance, but it caused a chemical reaction.”

Tamplen said no one was injured, but there was some “splatter … on the counter and on the jackets” of the students performing the experiment. Even though the chemical was non-hazardous, those students closest to the reaction were allowed to shower and change clothes as a precaution.

Decatur Fire Department was called to the scene at 9:01 a.m., and Captain Cliff Oates said that upon arrival, they found two rooms filled with smoke.

“We made sure there was no damage to the building and moved a few items outside,” he said.

His crew ventilated the building and checked the air quality before allowing students to return to class around at 11 a.m.

Ironically, the first thing Friday morning, the students participated in a fire and bus evacuation drill. They had just returned to the building when the incident occurred.

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