3 students return to school after Woodson chemistry fire

FAIRFAX, Va. — Students returned to W.T. Woodson High In Fairfax, Virginia, Wednesday four days after five students and a teacher were injured in a fiery chemistry experiment that went awry.

“I’m just hoping school gets back to normal, because it was really scary,” 16-year-old Austin Birkland says of the incident that evacuated the school.

Of the students who were injured, three were back in school on Wednesday. Two of the most seriously injured remain out of school and one is still in the hospital where she continues to improve and “her spirits are high,” Principal Scott F. Poole told the school.

The other most seriously burned teen was released from the hospital Sunday, he said.

School spokesman John Torre says Poole read a statement during morning announcements updating the student body on the injured teens.

“Both of the teachers who were in the classroom during the fire are currently on leave as they recover from what happened. One was slightly injured and is OK,” Poole also said in his announcement.

Repairs have been completed to the classroom where the fire occurred and classes will resume there. However the 7th period chemistry class that witnessed the fire will move to another room, according to Poole’s statement.

Fairfax Fire officials said Friday that about half of the room was damaged by fire, smoke or water.

The Associated Press reported that the teacher was demonstrating how chemicals can change the color of a flame and was using a flammable liquid as part of the classroom exercise.

Investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board are questioning school officials about the incident. The federal review may lead to expanded safety warnings for experiments involving flammable chemicals.

Fairfax County Schools Superintendent Karen Garza has banned experiments involving open flames while a review of safety procedures is underway.

“I’m happy about that,” the student Birkland says. “I don’t want anything bad like that to happen again in our school.”

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