Fumes cause evacuation of SVHS

Chemistry experiment gone wrong

Smithson Valley High School students got an early start to their weekend last Friday when a chemical reaction creating unknown fumes prompted an evacuation of the entire school.

According to Kari Hutchison, Director of Communications of Comal ISD, shortly after 1 p.m., students in a chemistry class were experimenting with sulfuric acid and magnesium shavings. The product of the mixture, hydrogen gas is then neutralized with sodium hydroxide, yet one student's experiment failed to neutralize and produced unrecognizable fumes.

"For some reason there was an uncontrolled reaction," said Hutchison.

Not knowing whether the fumes were toxic, faculty and staff members evacuated the school and called the Spring Branch-Bulverde fire department who then called a HAZ-MAT team from San Antonio. HAZ-MAT arrived at Smithson Valley around 4 p.m. and declared the building safe to occupy by 4:30 p.m. All busses ran as scheduled and since most students had left by the time the building was cleared for re-entry, students were allowed to return Saturday morning for their belongings.

"There were no injuries," said Hutchison. "That's the most important thing."

The Smithson Valley vs. Roosevelt game Friday night and SAT testing Saturday morning took place as scheduled.

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