Wilson Fire

Wilson Middle School fire thought to stem from rubbing alcohol, fire

2012-11-29T18:30:00Z 2013-01-22T23:19:58Z Wilson Middle School fire thought to stem from rubbing alcohol, fireBy Stacy Brown, The Sentinel The Sentinel
November 29, 2012 6:30 pm  • 

Carlisle Fire & Rescue Fire Chief John Heberlig said the department is still investigating what took place in an eighth grade science classroom Wednesday, but rubbing alcohol and fire appear to be the culprits.

Heberlig said that there were initial reports of two chemicals being mixed together, but from the department’s preliminary investigation points away from a chemical reaction.

“As far as we know, the experiment only involved rubbing alcohol,” he said.

Heberlig added that the science teacher – James Redington – performed a demonstration where he lit rubbing alcohol. The first demonstration appeared to go smoothly. The second did not.

“We’re not sure how the other one took place,” Heberlig said.

The investigation into the matter continues, according to Heberlig.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

Students returned to Wilson Middle School Thursday one day after a chemical fire rocked an 8th grade science class injuring eight people.

“We’ve started to get back to normal and counselors have been meeting with students all morning long,” Carlisle Area School District Superintendent John Friend said.

Faculty, staff and district officials were working with grief counselors to provide a sense of normalcy after Wednesday’s incident, Friend said.

“The kids are concerned about their classmates who were injured,” he said.

Two of the injured children were flown to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. A hospital spokesperson told abc27 that one of the students was released Wednesday evening. The other student was admitted to the hospital Wednesday and was in fair condition Thursday before being eventually released from the hospital Thursday evening, according to abc27.

The Sentinel does not name child victims of incidents unless the victims’ parents provide permission.

A critical care doctor at Johns Hopkins told The Sentinel on Wednesday that the fact the students were taken there could speak volumes about the severity of their injuries.

“A burn center referral is indicative of the patient requiring surgery or the need for the complex expertise of the burn center, meaning a physical therapist, a nurse and a surgeon with that expertise,” said Dr. Kevin Gerold, director of Critical Care at the hospital.

Gerold is not the physician for either of the students transported there.

“It’s a concern for us, (the student’s) condition,” Friend said.

The other injured who required treatment, including science teacher James Redington, were released from Carlisle Regional Medical Center, Friend said.

A total of five students were burned in the school science lab fire. Two students and one teacher suffered from smoke inhalation.

Friend said officials are still not sure what chemicals caused the fire, but said a “fireball” occurred when they were mixed together.

Redington, who has taught at the school for three years, put the fire out with an extinguisher and was later treated at Carlisle Regional Medical Center.

Twenty-five students were in the science class when the fire broke out.


Posted Thursday morning on Cumberlink:

One student remains hospitalized after a science classroom fire at Wilson Middle School in Carlisle.

The Associated Press and abc27 are reporting that one student had to be admitted to the hospital after being flown to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and is in fair condition Thursday. The second student flown to the hospital was released Wednesday evening.

The Sentinel does not name underage victims unless given permission from parents/guardians.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

What happened in the eighth-grade science room just after 11 a.m. Wednesday at Wilson Middle School is a blur for 13-year-old Rose Heflin.

“She said all she saw was a young man with flames all over him screaming,” her mother Rebecca Heflin said. “There were a number of kids rolling around (to get the flames off). She felt the heat of it and just blacked out. She doesn’t remember much about it.”

Rose was one of three students sent to Carlisle Regional Medical Center in the immediate aftermath of a science-class experiment that ended in flames. These three students were accompanied by a teacher who acted as a chaperone.

Two other students were flown by Life Lion to Johns Hopkins Burn Center, a common treatment facility for serious burns suffered in the region. One of the two students is in stable condition. The condition of the other student is unknown as of press time.

Later in the day, another two students and the teacher of the class, James Redington, went to Carlisle Regional Medical Center for additional evaluation for smoke inhalation, according to Megan Silverstrim, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Department of Public Safety.

By 2:30 p.m., the teacher and all five of the students sent to Carlisle hospital were released. Conditions were unavailable for the two students taken to Johns Hopkins.

According to Carlisle Area School District Superintendent John Friend, the fire started around 11:10 a.m. when eighth graders in a science classroom were gathered around a table watching a demonstration from their teacher. Two chemicals reacted and created a “fireball.”

Redington was able to put out the fire quickly with a fire extinguisher, according to Heflin.

There were 25 students in the classroom at the time of the incident, Silverstrim said.

Because the fire was put out so quickly, “there was no need to evacuate the building,” Friend said, adding that the eighth-grade pod was cleared for the remainder of the day.

Friend addressed the media in a news conference Wednesday afternoon while students were being dismissed from Wilson Middle School.

The fire department is still investigating, but parents were getting the first-hand accounts of what happened in the science lab as students arrived home Wednesday afternoon.

“She said they were doing some experiment,” Heflin said. “I know others said they heard a pop, but she didn’t hear anything, and all of a sudden, everything started happening. The teacher quickly used the fire extinguisher to put it out, and he got a fire blanket to use.”

While this was happening to Rose, Heflin was having a confusing time figuring out what was going on.

She said she saw she had a missed call from the school, but there was no message. She assumed that Rose was fine, but she got a call from her husband saying that it wasn’t the case and Rose was in the hospital.

“They allowed us to see her right away, but no one would tell us what happened,” Heflin said. “I’m just grateful that it was a very, very minor burn.”

Rose suffered first-degree burns on her face.

“For her, it looks like a sunburn,” Heflin said.

Even before the emergency personnel had fully left the scene, Silverstrim said parents of the injured students had been contacted. If parents had not received a call about their child, then the child was safe.

Still, the school activated a “reunification system” at the middle school for parents if they wanted to pick up their child from the school, Silverstrim said. School was dismissed at the normal time, but parents were allowed to pick up their child if they wanted.

Wilson Middle School will have regularly scheduled classes Thursday, and counseling will be available for students.

But for Rose, the healing started with a handmade card for her teacher. She made the card because she knew he would be upset about what happened.

“Accidents are accidents, and I know he feels terrible about what happened,” Heflin said. “I would too if it happened. It’s not his fault.”


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

It was a mixture of two chemicals during a science demonstration that resulted in a "fireball," according to Carlisle Area School District Superintendent John Friend.

Friend addressed the media in a press conference Wednesday afternoon while students were being dismissed from Wilson Middle School.

According to Friend, eighth graders in a science classroom were gathered around a table watching a demonstration by their teacher when the two chemicals reacted and created a fire. The fire was able to be put out quickly with a fire extinguisher, but not before five students were injured.

Two were flown to Johns Hopkins, and three were transported to Carlisle Regional Medical Center. Two more students and a teacher were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Everyone who was transported to the Carlisle hospital has been released, according to Friend.

Wilson Middle School will have regularly scheduled classes Thursday, and counseling will be available for students.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

Two more Wilson Middle School students and a teacher were taken to Carlisle Regional Medical Center for evaluation for "smoke inhalation," according to Megan Silverstrim, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Department of Public Safety.

Previously, three students were taken to the Carlisle hospital with a chaperone and two others were flown to Johns Hopkins.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

Wilson Middle School student Colton Sweeney described what sounded like a "loud pop" when the explosion in the science classroom occurred at the school Wednesday.

Colton said an announcement interrupted his class and they were taken to another area of the building.

"It was scary," he said. "You didn't know if you'd lose your classmates or not. You were worried about your friends."

Five students were hospitalized for injuries suffered in the fire. Two of those students were flown to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

Two of the five students who were injured in the Wilson Middle School science classroom fire were flown to Johns Hopkins for treatment of their burns, according to Megan Silverstrim, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Department of Public Safety.

The Johns Hopkins Burn Center is a common treatment facility for serious burns suffered in the region.

Silverstrim added that there is a "reunification system" set up at the middle school for parents if they want to pick up their child from the school. School will be dismissed at the normal time, but parents are allowed to pick up their child if they want.

Silverstrom said parents of the injured students have been contacted. If parents have not received a call about their child, then the child is safe.

School officials are calling the incident a fire; however, abc27 spoke to a student who said he heard a popping noise followed by students running out of the classroom. He said some students did not have shirts on because they had been burned.

abc27 sources say rubbing alcohol caused an explosion. Following the explosion, only the area around the classroom was evacuated, Silverstrom said.

Twenty five students were in the eighth grade science class when the fire broke out.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

Five students were injured in the Wilson Middle School fire, with two flown to unnamed hospitals, according to Megan Silverstrim, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Department of Public Safety.

Silverstrim said that the other three students were taken to Carlisle Regional Medical Center. She noted that the fire took place in an eighth grade science classroom.

Officials say the plan is to keep to the regular dismissal time.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

Cumberland County Dispatch reports that the fire occurred in a science classroom, according to the Associated Press.

ab27 reports that there are five people injured, and it was a rubbing alcohol explosion.

Traffic is also backed up on Longs Gap Road and in the area of the middle school.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

Two Life Lion helicopters arrived on the scene of Wilson Middle School to respond to the explosion. A number of burn injuries have been reported by Cumberland County Dispatch.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

Life Lion was called out to Wilson Middle School after an explosion at the school Wednesday.

A reporter at the scene says that it appears that students are still inside the school and are not being evacuated.

A phone call to the the middle school indicated that if parents have not received a phone call, their child is fine.


Posted at 11:32 a.m. on Cumberlink:

A number of people have burn injuries after a fire and explosion at Wilson Middle School around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to Cumberland County Dispatch reports.

At least one person is said to have burns on their arms, face and chest, and dispatch reports indicate that there are multiple burn victims.

There was a fire reported at the middle school, located at 900 Waggoner’s Gap Road, but the fire was put out, according to Cumberland County Dispatch.

Check back to Cumberlink.com as more information becomes available.

Copyright 2015 The Sentinel. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. maryann
    Report Abuse
    maryann - November 29, 2012 3:12 pm
    I think it's too soon....too soon to fix blame (let the investigation run its course)...too soon to say it was handled horribly (first priority in a situation like this is -or should be- first and foremost, the injured students, then making sure all of the other students are safe...and THEN notifications....Let's all step back, let the professionals do their job, and then we can talk about blame, etc.
  2. pumpkin11
    Report Abuse
    pumpkin11 - November 29, 2012 12:56 pm
    Wilson did a great job in this situation. Their priorities were in order. They took care of the students who had been injured and the parents needed to be alerted were alerted. If a robocall had been made to every parent just picture the chaos it would have caused and the children who were in need of medical attention would have been delayed. Yes I was scared too.Pray for the children who were in the room and for those who were injured and stop beating up the school. Safety is first and always
  3. cosmicmom
    Report Abuse
    cosmicmom - November 29, 2012 9:05 am
    Healing love and light to all of the students, the parents, the administrators, and especially, the teacher involved and the student still at Johns Hopkins. To the student still hospitalized and that family, a speedy and complete recovery.
  4. Zeldana
    Report Abuse
    Zeldana - November 29, 2012 7:15 am
    A coment that this horrible accident was not the teacher's fault is a bit disturbing. Unless there was some sort of mechanical failure, etc. I think I would beg to differ. A professiona, highly qualified educator of science would not have undertaken a risk that would have landed some kids in a hospital. I know he must feel terrible--- nevertheless, it requires and investigation of his expertise and judgement.
  5. smvb
    Report Abuse
    smvb - November 28, 2012 11:37 pm
    soundofsanity, this was EXACTLY how it was handled. As a parent of a child that attends Wilson, they did use the notification system, and said exactly that, before you posted (depending on how accurate "10 hours ago" is). I would imagine that they had a lot going on, and that their first priority was to take care of the injured, making sure that the threat had passed, and THEN notifying the parents of the other children what had happened. Silly to expect nearly INSTANT notifications.
  6. Carlisleborn
    Report Abuse
    Carlisleborn - November 28, 2012 11:17 pm
    Get over yourself already soundofsanity. Maybe school officials were a little busy dealing with the safety of the children instead of notifying parents who were just going to show up and get in the way.
    They probably had minutes to deal with all of this and maybe calling parents who were at home and work wasn't the first priority. Especially the drama queens that send their kids to Wilson.
  7. soundofsanity
    Report Abuse
    soundofsanity - November 28, 2012 1:08 pm
    This was handled HORRIBLY! Parents needed to be notified through the emergency notification system that this was an isolated fire, 5 people were injured and those effected families have been notified, please stay away from school grounds as emergency services finish their work. Instead, parents are grasping for information after reading report of multiple children burned, Life Lion called for burn victims, etc. Scary to ANY parent and I fear the administration lost sight of that in this.
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