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Science explosion injures 5


   For the second time in three weeks, a chemistry class demonstration exploded, injuring a teacher and four students last Friday.
   According to Madras High School Principal Gary Carlton, the final bell had just rung and most of the students had left Scott Coles' chemistry classroom.
   "There were only four students there because the teacher was repeating a demonstration he had done three times before during the day," Carlton said.
   "That's when it happened," Carlton said, noting a 5-gallon, "carboy," a thick glass jug for holding liquids, exploded during a combustion experiment conducted by the teacher. The same experiment has been done numerous times over the years without problems.
   Four students received minor injuries from the exploding glass, and Carlton noted, "Mr. Coles did suffer a fairly severe injury to his arm, but they all were treated at the hospital and released on the same day."
   The ambulance and two fire rigs responded to the scene, but Fire Chief Earl Cordes said there were no flames, fumes or hazardous chemicals. "All we did was assist with the victims," he said.
   Just three weeks ago on Sept. 8, a test tube exploded in another MHS chemistry class, sending the teacher and three students to the hospital for minor injures.
   "The science department in over 28 years has never had an issue like this, and suddenly we have two in three weeks," Carlton said.
   They have thoroughly investigated the equipment and procedures, but have not found a cause for the accident. In the first explosion, a faulty test tube was suspected.
   "We're not sure why this happened. These are totally unrelated cases and there was no sign of weakness in the carboy," Carlton said.
   As a precaution, Carlton said the science teachers "made a decision to put a moratorium on any type of large combustion demonstrations."