Nevada museum blast resulted from 'simple oversight,' fire official says

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 04, 2014 3:39 PM

(Reuters) - A chemical flash that injured 13 people, including several children, in a Nevada museum was triggered by a "simple oversight" by a presenter trying to simulate a smoke tornado for visitors, a fire official said on Thursday.

Officials said one child remained hospitalized in good condition on Thursday, a day after the demonstration went awry at the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum in Reno. Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said the child was expected to be released on Thursday.

All the other people hurt in the blast were either treated at the scene or were released from hospital on Wednesday evening for injuries described by Renown Regional Medical Center as superficial burns and airway irritation.

Hernandez said the blast occurred when a presenter was trying to create a smoke tornado in a glass container, using a cotton ball, alcohol and boric acid to demonstrate the "dust devil" whirlwinds common in Nevada.

The presenter was supposed to dip the cotton ball in alcohol but instead poured alcohol on it when it failed to smoke, generating a large, three-second flash, he said.

"It was a very simple oversight on the presenter's part, fortunately the injuries were minor although our thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected,” Hernandez said.

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The museum is aimed mainly at children and offers interactive exhibits in geology, astronomy, history and other subjects. Discovery museum officials said the demonstration was routine.

"All those affected by today's incident continue to be in our thoughts and we are committed to determining the cause of this incident," Mat Sinclair, executive director of the museum, said in a statement on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham)