Students at Oak Ridge High School were briefly evacuated Tuesday morning after a chemistry experiment set off smoke detectors, authorities said.
A small amount of zinc chloride and water created water vapor that set off the smoke detectors, which then shut chemistry lab hoods, Oak Ridge firefighters said. The Oak Ridge Fire Department manually opened the vents in the room (LC212) until the smoke detector system reset. Firefighters checked the air, making sure it was safe to breathe, Battalion Chief Jody Durham said.
There was no fire, no damage, and no injuries, firefighters said.
“No student was ever in any real danger,” Durham said.
Oak Ridge police and fire departments responded to the call at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. Authorities gave the “all clear” signal about 20 minutes later, and students were let back in.
Oak Ridge Schools maintenance workers were on their way to check the system, ORFD Assistant Fire Chief Josh Waldo said.
Waldo said most Fire Department calls to the high school are related to medical issues. But there was a small fire in a trash can in a chemistry classroom about a year ago at the high school. That was the result of an unintended reaction from waste products left over from a chemistry experiment earlier in the day. Firefighters were able to use a fire extinguisher to put out the fire, which was in a fire-resistant wastepaper container inside a locked classroom, Kerley said.
There were also no injuries and no damage to the school in that case.