2 Injured in Chemical Lab Fire at CSU San Marcos

School officials say three students were working with substances when a chemical reaction caused those subtances to ignite

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A student was taken to the hospital after a three chemicals ignited in a Cal State San Marcos lab. NBC 7's Liberty Zabala explains what the students were preparing for. (Published Saturday, Mar 15, 2014)

    Two students were injured in a small chemical reaction fire at a lab at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) Friday night, school officials confirmed.

    The chemical reaction, which caused a small fire, happened on campus in Room 206B and prompted a Hazmat investigation at the college.

    Student Injured in Chem Lab Explosion

    [DGO] Student Injured in Chem Lab Explosion
    One student was injured in a small explosion inside a chem lab at Cal State University San Marcos. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports. (Published Saturday, Mar 15, 2014)

    According to school officials, three students were working with three unspecified substances in a physics lab when a chemical reaction caused the substances to ignite. Investigators say there was no blast or explosion, as initially reported, but rather a small fire that the students were able to put out using a nearby fire extinguisher.

    Officials said one student sustained an injury to the right eye and was transported to Palomar Medical Center. Another student was treated at the scene, and a third was not harmed in the lab incident. The injured student was later released from the hospital.

    School officials said the students were preparing rocket fuel for a model rocket demonstration related to Super STEM Saturday, a science event held at the CSUSM campus on Saturday. The free event – which officials confirmed will go on as planned – features dozens of interactive, hands-on science activities, according rocket launches, build-a-robot stations and model displays.

    School officials said the students did have permission to be in the physics lab Friday night without supervision.

    A risk management and safety team was called to the campus to evaluate the damage and clean-up needs of the laboratory. By 11 p.m., Hazmat crews had wrapped up their investigation and were clearing the campus.

    The names of the students involved in this incident were not released. The physics lab where the incident occurred remained closed on Saturday.

    CSUSM students say they understand the dangers of working with chemicals.

    "You can have a premature fire, there are generally timing issues but rockets are really safe. They can be finicky but that just comes with patience -- how to deal with them,” said physics student Joy Lopez Cervera.

    Meanwhile, school officials say this is the first time something like this has ever happened in the physics lab on campus. After this incident, the university says it plans to revise its protocols on students working in labs alone.