Wash. College Student Burned in Chemistry Lab Fire

Wash. College Student Burned in Chemistry Lab Fire

News Feb 02, 2013

A Washington State University student was severely burned in a chemical fire Friday in Fulmer Hall on the WSU campus.

According to a Pullman Fire Department news release, the male student was working with another student on an experiment with hexane, a hydrocarbon that is a significant constituent of gasoline. The lab where the fire occurred is on the fifth floor of Fulmer Hall, the university's chemistry department.

As the experiment progressed, the students doubled the chemical and the amount of electricity used in the experiment, causing a fire to erupt, witnesses told the fire department. Pullman firefighters and Whitman County Rural Fire District No. 12 personnel responded to the blaze at around 2:20 p.m. when students were unable to control it with fire extinguishers.

The male student was rushed by ambulance to Pullman Regional Hospital with third-degree burns on his left leg. The other student, a pregnant woman, fell backward when the fire erupted but did not appear to be injured.

Pullman Fire Chief Mike Heston said the experiment did not cause an explosion. Most of the fire was contained under a vent hood, which was lucky, he said.

"It could have caught more of the room on fire," he said.

Heston declined to release the students' names or ages, citing Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act laws.

Students were allowed back in the building after about 40 minutes. WSU police officers and the WSU Environmental Health and Safety Department are investigating the incident, according to the fire department.

The amount of damage to the lab was not known Friday.

Copyright 2013 - Lewiston Tribune, Idaho

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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Lewiston Tribune, Idaho
Kevin Gaboury
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