HYRUM ÿ An explosion at South Cache 8-9th Grade Center in Hyrum sent dozens of students and one teacher to Logan Regional Hospital this morning.
Thirteen of the injured were quickly moved to the hospital by five ambulances, including one from Box Elder County. Another 20 were transported to the hospital by school bus.
Dozens of parents gathered around South Cache's east gate, where sheriff's deputies blocked the entrance to all except emergency response personnel. The concerned parents, including one dressed in pajamas and slippers, breathed a sigh of relief when they learned their children were safe.
Margaret Johnson was shopping at JoAnn's Fabric in Logan this morning when she heard a report from the store clerk of an explosion at South Cache. Johnson, whose child attends the Hyrum school, immediately left JoAnn's and rushed to the school, afraid of the worst.
"With all the scares going on in the schools with the pipe bombs and stuff," Johnson said, "I'm glad it was just a regular science mishap and nobody was seriously hurt."
A group of students was gathered around a laboratory experiment in Lance Hansen's eighth-grade science class around 9:50 this morning when two chemicals interacted, causing an explosion. It is not known whether the students and teacher were wearing safety glasses.
Hansen, a second-year science teacher at South Cache, was conducting an experiment using methanol, separating it into methane and water, according to Jeff Peterson, Cache County assistant fire marshal.
"They had done the experiment one time and everything worked fine," Peterson said. "The glass container the experiment was being conducted in broke and the explosion shattered other glass in the room."
The students and teacher were injured by flying glass, and assistant principal Teri Cutler said most of the wounds were to their faces, necks and hands.
Peterson said there was no indication of what went wrong with the experiment. There were no problems with any hazardous materials in the room, he said, but experts are being brought in this afternoon to check everything in the chemistry lab.
The scene in the north wing of South Cache 30 minutes after the explosion was controlled as the injured students and teacher were evaluated and transported out of the building. The faculty, staff and studentbody were given general information about the accident over the intercom and were asked to remain in their classes until school was dismissed.
Officials at the Logan Regional Hospital said there were no critical injuries among the patients who had lacerations and bruises. The first five patients arrived by 10:45 a.m. and Cutler was at the hospital as parents of the victims came into the emergency room. Several shed tears together and hugged before hospital personnel whisked them into a waiting classroom that was provided to prevent congestion in the emergency room.
"As the family comes in, they will take one family member to be with the injured student and the rest of the family members will go to a different location," Cutler said.
A list of the injured students' names was not available at press time as officials were still trying to reach a few of the parents. Cutler said counseling services will be available for the victims and their families.
After the injured were treated and transported to the hospital, the remaining South Cache students were sent home for the rest of the day. Kirk McRae, personnel director for the Cache County School District, said the decision to close the school for the rest of the afternoon was precautionary. A cleanup of Room 360, where the chemicals exploded, will be completed this afternoon.