Instructor hurt in explosion in school lab

Story highlights

  • The blast creates a mushroom cloud, a school spokesman says
  • The instructor suffers cuts; three students have "respiratory concerns"
  • Southwest Tennessee Community College is in Memphis
Firefighters are trying to confirm what chemicals were involved in an explosion around noon Wednesday at the campus of Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis.
"Twelve students were in the classroom. The instructor was injured, suffered cuts to the face, upper body and arms. He was transported to the hospital," said Lt. Wayne Cooke of the Memphis Fire Department. "Three students are being evaluated because of respiratory concerns."
The other students were under observation, he added.
Southwest Tennessee Community College spokesman Robert Jackson released a statement describing a fiery mushroom from the explosion, and saying the cause was thought to be a chemical mixture of phosphoric acid and 2-methylcyclohexanol.
Emergency responders were told 18 milliliters "of chemicals or product" were being heated in a container at the time of the explosion, Cooke said, and a hazardous materials team was working to confirm what chemicals were involved.
The building was evacuated when emergency units arrived on the scene, he said.