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NEWS RELEASE 01/13/12: Portland Fire & Rescue Responding to a HazMat Incident at David Douglas High School, 12 Transported to Hospitals


January 13, 2012

3:04 PM

Click on photo above to watch Firefighter/Asst. Public Information Officer Tommy Schroeder speak with NewsChannel 8 regarding the HazMat incident.

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At 10:14 am, 9-1-1 call-takers received reports that a small explosion had occurred in a science classroom at David Douglas High  School located at1001 SE 135th Avenue.  The classroom where the explosion took place was reportedly filled with smoke, so students and faculty immediately evacuated the science wing which houses a total of 12 classrooms.

Specially trained Firefighter/HazMat Technicians from Portland Fire Station 7 (Mill Park) arrived first on-scene and were told that at the time of the explosion, sodium metal had been placed in a sink and come into contact with water.  Sodium is a bright, silvery metal that is soft and highly reactive. Sodium floats on water, which decomposes it to evolve hydrogen and form the hydroxide. Sodium may ignite spontaneously on contact water.  At that time, firefighters called for a Level II HazMat response bringing additional resources and expertise to the scene of this mass casualty incident.

25 students and one teacher were in the classroom at the time of the explosion.  One adult and 11 students were assessed and treated by Portland firefighter/paramedics and school nurses.  Most were complaining of upper respiratory distress.  The students were then transported to area hospitals; all with non-life threatening injuries.

Both the classroom where the explosion occurred and clothing worn by the 11 students who were transported to hospitals tested positive for high concentrations of ph.  Firefighters used the school's showers to decontaminate affected students and outfit them with Tyvek suits prior to transport.

According to Portland Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Duane Bray, "This emergency evacuation took place quickly and efficiently thanks to David Douglas High School's advanced planning and preparation for such an event."

This incident is an important reminder to all teachers and students that science labs are places of tremendous excitement and learning, but it is important to stay safe and alert at all times.  Students should listen carefully to their teacher at all times when working with dangerous materials. Injury or accident could easily occur if directions are not carefully followed.

Specifically, students are urged to:

  • Familiarize yourself with the location of any and all safety equipment which may be available, including the fire extinguisher and the eyewash station.
  • If you have access to an emergency shower, know where this is located.
  • Know where the exits to the room are found and follow evacuation procedures quickly and quietly if needed.
  • Check your equipment for breakage. If you find a crack in a glass beaker or other container, inform your instructor and dispose of the glass in the proper location.

Photos Courtesy PF&R Photographer Greg Muhr




January 13, 2012

10:53 am


Portland firefighters are responding to a HazMat incident at David Douglas High School in SE Portland.

A small explosion has occurred in the science wing and everyone has evacuated. There are at least three patients with reported minor injuries.

Portland Fire & Rescue’s Public Information Officer is en-route to the scene and media staging will be determined upon arrival. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.