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2 Beacon HS Students Burned When Chemistry Experiment Explodes, DOE Says

By  Emily Frost and Aidan Gardiner | January 2, 2014 10:25am | Updated on January 2, 2014 1:49pm

 Two sophomores were burned when a teacher's science demonstration exploded, officials said.
Students Burned in Chemistry Class Explosion
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LINCOLN SQUARE — Two tenth-grade students were burned when their teacher's chemistry demonstration went awry and suddenly exploded at Beacon High School Thursday morning, officials said.

The 15-year-old boy and girl, whose identities were not immediately released, were in chemistry class at 227 West 61st St., near West End Avenue, when their teacher's demonstration erupted about 9 a.m., FDNY and Department of Education officials said.

The teacher, Anna Poole, was igniting various chemicals in crucibles to show the colors their flames make, said 15-year-old Jeremy Reynoso, who was also in the class.

"It was one big blast and we were traumatized," Reynoso said. "She was trying to do a little cool experiment and I guess it went wrong."

While most of the other students ducked under tables, a boy sitting close to the front was not as quick and suffered burns along his neck and face, according to Reynoso and the DOE.

"He was burned from his torso to his left ear. His skin was melted and scabbed on the left side," Reynoso said.

Flames poured over the front table and a quick-thinking 16-year-old, Ahmadou Gueye, snatched a nearby fire extinguisher and tossed it to Poole who extinguished the flames that had poured over her table, witnesses said.

"Everybody just froze so I just ran for it," Gueye said. "I tried to press it, but the pin was in it and I took it out and gave [the extinguisher] to the teacher."

"I was a little scared," Gueye added. "I did it to help him out. I saw he was in pain."

"By the time I arrived, the classroom had been evacuated. Everyone else was sheltered in place," said FDNY Chief Anthony Devita.

The two burned students were taken to New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital, where doctors attended to the boy's second degree burns and the girl was treated for first degree burns, a fire officials said.

Poole, the chemistry teacher who is in her first year at Beacon after working at The Bronx High School of Science, was unharmed in the blast, students and officials said.

"The teacher was shaken but not burned," said chief Devita.

Students said Poole was a popular teacher who was extra cautious with safety procedures.

"Our teacher probably cares about safety more than any other teacher. She has us put on goggles even when we're playing with wood," said 15-year-old Max Burrough.

Beacon's principal was investigating the incident and the sophomores' parents were notified, a DOE spokeswoman said.

Beacon enrolls about 1,275 high schoolers in its arts and technology based pre-college program, according to their website.

Poole, Beacon, and the teachers' union declined to immediately comment on the Thursday incident.