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Flash fire hurts 13 people at museum in Reno

Thirteen people, mostly school age children, were injured at the Discovery Museum in downtown Reno, Nev. on Aug. 3, 2014. ABC affiliate KOLO TV 8 reports that most of the injuries were minor burns and smoke inhalation. A tornado exhibit exploded unexpectedly, causing the injuries. The incident caused the museum to close for the remainder of the day.

Out of the 13 injured people, nine were taken to a local hospital for treatment. One child remains at the hospital in good condition. The staff member who was in charge of performing the fire experiment has been placed on administrative leave. CNN reports that the fire was a result of incorrect mixing of the chemicals used to create the fire tornado

Witnesses at the scene say that the museum staff member who was performing the experiment went back to add another chemical when the tornado was not working. The tornado fire is created by mixing boric acid and methyl alcohol. The result should be a tornado made from green smoke. The staff member applied mixed the two incorrectly; the result was a chemical flash fire.

There was no smoke or fire damage to the museum. It is open during normal hours. The fire tornado exhibit has been suspended. All other exhibits are open at this time.

The Discovery Museum has made the following official statement regarding the fire:

“On September 3, 2014 at 4:08 p.m., the Terry Lee Wells Discovery Museum (The Discovery)
was conducting a routine experiment when the demonstration caused an unexpected
“flash.” Eight minors and one adult were affected and were immediately transported
to Renown Regional Medical Center by REMSA for treatment.

The staff of The Discovery responded immediately and according to their training.

There was no serious damage to the building and everyone was safely evacuated.

The cause of the incident is under investigation by the Reno Fire Department.

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

We would like to thank the staff of The Discovery and first responders for their quick
action. The Discovery is cooperating fully with all entities involved. Additional updates
will be provided as information becomes available.”

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