A student whose hair and clothes caught fire when a classroom chemistry experiment sparked a flash fire was hospitalized in critical condition over Thanksgiving weekend.
Waverly High School junior Christina Jurus, 16, was admitted to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Mich., with first- and second-degree burns after the Nov. 24 science class accident.
Twelve students from the district just west of Lansing were treated and released for minor burns. Nine of 11 uninjured students in the class went home early with their parents, while two others remained in school.
Methanol fumes apparently ignited during a routine chemistry demonstration by teacher Ernest Luttig, said Delta Township Assistant Fire Chief Scott Pellerito.
“It was just a normal chemistry type of experiment,” Pellerito told the Lansing State Journal. “He had done it many times.”
The experiment uses methanol vapors to blow a cork from a plastic bottle. The bottle being used was a white quart-size plastic jug, which fell from Luttig’s hand when the unexpected flash occurred, Pellerito said.
Waverly Schools Superintendent Jim Ryan said the teacher was “devastated.”
There was virtually no damage to the school building. The rest of the 1,100 Waverly students were in no danger and continued their normal schedule of classes, Ryan said.
Pellerito said Ms. Jurus was sitting closest to the failed experiment, and her hooded sweatshirt and hair caught fire. Luttig and her classmates threw a coat over her to smother the flames, he said. n