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A science teacher and a pupil have been airlifted to hospital after creating a ‘methanol rocket’ in a chemistry lesson which exploded.

Students at Dinwiddie High School, in Virginia, described smelling ‘burning’ and ‘chemical fumes’ after the blast was sparked in a chemistry lab on Wednesday morning.

William Massello, a science teacher and football coach, was conducting an experiment for students using methanol to make a water bottle fly across the room with a flame.

But students in the classroom have claimed that when the stunt didn’t work initially, he added more of the gas before bringing the bottle towards the flame which is understood to have caused an explosion.

The blast took place on the second floor of the building, in a chemistry lab, with officials evacuating all of the students and sending them home as a precaution.

Witnesses in the classroom claim that one student who was close to the front of the room had his hair set alight.  

Emergency services were scrambled to the scene, and Massello and a student were both airlifted to hospital – another student is understood to have been taken to a medical center in an ambulance.

Massello, who has taught at Dinwiddie High School for over 18 years, appears to have been conducting the experiment in front of classes for a long time.

Students at Dinwiddie High School, in Virginia, described smelling ‘burning’ and ‘chemical fumes’ after the blast was sparked in a chemistry lab on Wednesday morning by a 'methanol rocket' experiment gone wrong

 Students at Dinwiddie High School, in Virginia, described smelling ‘burning’ and ‘chemical fumes’ after the blast was sparked in a chemistry lab on Wednesday morning by a ‘methanol rocket’ experiment gone wrong

The blast took place on the second floor of the building, in a chemistry lab, with Mr Massello being flown to hospital

The blast took place on the second floor of the building, in a chemistry lab, with Mr Massello being flown to hospital

Footage captured in October 2017 shows a student holding onto a bottle filled with the gas, and a flame shooting out of the bottom before it shoots across the classroom.

Tammy Jean Moore-Edwards, whose cousin was in the classroom at the time of the incident, told DailyMail.com that she initially heard about the explosion on an emergency scanner. 

She said: ‘ The school did an awesome job in the way they handled everything, and when I heard it on the scanner I was a nervous wreck.

‘My cousin told me that the teacher Mr Massello had been mixing a liquid in a bottle, to make a rocket. My son told me that he had the same experiment the year before.

‘But when it didn’t work, he added more, and it just blew up. He was the only one right at the desk, but the students sitting up the front got the blast from the explosion.

Footage captured in October 2017 shows a student holding onto a bottle filled with the gas, and a flame shooting out of the bottom before it shoots across the classroom

Footage captured in October 2017 shows a student holding onto a bottle filled with the gas, and a flame shooting out of the bottom before it shoots across the classroom

Parents queued up outside the school to collect their children as the building was evacuated after the incident

Parents queued up outside the school to collect their children as the building was evacuated after the incident

Dinwiddie High School, in Virginia, has sent all of their pupils home after an explosion as air ambulances flew several students to hospital

Dinwiddie High School, in Virginia, has sent all of their pupils home after an explosion as air ambulances flew several students to hospital

‘Kids started running out of the classroom, screaming and freaking out. There was smoke and the table and floor was on fire.

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‘The students at the front were the ones who got covered in the gas, which is why they got burned.

‘You don’t have to touch anything, just because he was close enough it got on him and he was a good distance away it just exploded everywhere.

‘The sprinklers didn’t go off, which is kinda scary. Mr Massello had been letting something else burn out in the sink which was used to dispose of chemicals as well, but I don’t know why he was doing that.

‘My cousin told me that there was one boy holding his hands and his leg, she said he was burned on his pant leg. Another lad at the front had his hair catch on fire, though not for very long.

‘It’s like something that you see in movies. It’s terrifying.’

It is understood that the blast took place in a room on the second floor of the building during a science class

It is understood that the blast took place in a room on the second floor of the building during a science class

Tammy added that firefighters in hazmat suits had been rushing into the building when she left, and one mother raced across the school car park to reach her son in an ambulance.

Dinwiddie Sheriff’s and Fire Department are yet to issue an update on the incident, but school officials confirmed they were investigating.

In a statement Dinwiddie County Public Schools said: ‘Today during second block, there was an incident that was confined to a chemistry class at DHS. All students were immediately evacuated.

‘Law enforcement is currently investigating the situation and more information is forthcoming.

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‘Today, Dinwiddie High School only will be dismissing early at 11:15 am and we ask all parents who normally pick up their students to please do so.’

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