A dozen preschool children were injured Tuesday after a science experiment at a Texas school went awry and caused a flash fire that erupted in some of the students’ faces, authorities said.
The 12 students, aged 3 and 4, suffered first and second-degree burns after the incident at the Yellow School in Houston and were rushed to the hospital shortly before noon, Village Fire Chief David Foster told TIME.
The young children were watching their teacher conduct the so-called “rainbow experiment,” which involves burning chemicals to create rainbow-hued flames, when the teacher mistakenly added too much alcohol to the fire, according to Foster.
“It caused a flash fire, which burned the children,” said the fire chief, whose department serves villages in Houston.
The teacher had blended boric acid with methanol and lit the mixture, expecting a colorful flame. When she didn’t see a flame, she poured alcohol into the concoction, which then exploded. “It was certainly an accident,” Foster said.
The teacher was not harmed, but the dozen children nearby were burned on their faces, hands, arms and legs. All but one of the victims were released from the hospital as of Tuesday night, the fire chief said. A parent was also injured in a car crash while rushing to the school.
“It’s just scary,” Randy Keeney, whose 3-year-old son was burned in the face, told KPRC 2.
The science demonstration has resulted in burns at other schools in the past. An error during the rainbow experiment at a Virginia high school in 2015 left two students seriously injured.
The Yellow School said in a statement that the Tuesday incident is under investigation. “Our primary concern is the health and safety of our children, and the Yellow School asks for your prayers for the injured and their families, as well as staff and students,” the statement said.