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Chemical Flash at Nevada Museum Hospitalizes 9

A routine experiment at a Nevada museum designed to help children understand tornadoes went awry when a chemical flash occurred, injuring 13 and hospitalizing 9, including children who suffered acid burns on their hands, arms, and faces.

Emergency crews responded to a report of a possible explosion at 4:10 p.m. Wednesday at the Terry Lee Wells Discovery Museum in downtown Reno, reports News Advance.

City of Reno spokesperson Matthew Brown told The Associated Press that a preliminary investigation indicates that it was not an explosion but rather a chemical flash, which is “similar to if someone through gasoline on a fire.”

Eight children and one adult were taken to a Reno hospital for minor burns or smoke inhalation, Brown said in a statement.

Four other people were treated at the scene, but their ages were not disclosed, he said. Officials at Renown Regional Medical Center expected only one child to remain hospitalized overnight for observation and would likely be sent home Thursday, Brown said.

Reno police Officer Tim Broadway had said earlier that several children suffered acid burns on their arms, faces, and hands.

Officials said a methyl alcohol and boric acid combination is used during the exhibition conducted each day to create a whirling tornado effect.

“The injuries were the result of a mishap of a routine museum demonstration that simulates a tornado,” the city’s statement said Wednesday night. “Reno Fire Department investigators are working with museum staff to determine what caused the chemical flash.”

“Our primary focus right now is on Discovery patrons and their safety,” said Mat Sinclair, executive director for The Discovery, in a statement. “All those affected by today’s incident continue to be in our thoughts and we are committed to determining the cause of this incident.”

KRNV-TV aired amateur video posted to its Facebook page that showed a glimpse of the explosion inside the Nevada museum. Played in slow motion, it shows a flash and flames falling off an experiment table and onto the floor several feet from a group of children who screamed when it happened.

Chemical Flash at Nevada Museum Hospitalizes 9

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