5 students heating hot chocolate burned in Northside Prep fire - KMSP-TV

5 students heating hot chocolate burned in Northside Prep fire

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Five students were injured — one seriously — when a fire ignited while they were heating hot chocolate on a gas burner in a North Side high school cooking class, fire officials said.

The incident happened about 10:30 a.m. in a lab at Northside College Prep High School at 5500 N. Kedzie, police News Affairs Officer Michael Sullivan said.

"It lasted all of maybe 10 seconds," Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said. "A gas burner ignited. The fire went up to the ceiling, and was immediately put out by the sprinkler."

Langford said the gas caused "a flash" explosion.

One student was taken in serious-to-critical condition to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center with facial burns and burns to the arms and neck; two in fair condition were taken to Swedish Covenant Hospital; and one in good condition was taken to Masonic, Langford said. A fifth student declined treatment.

"During a routine cooking instruction, there was an incident with a single-burner stove that resulted in a small fire," a statement from CPS spokesman Joel Hood said.

"The school responded immediately. All students were evacuated from school for a short time until it was determined that they could return safely. An investigation is underway," Hood said.

Students were gathered inside the auditorium, said Dylan Doppelt, a junior at the school.

"Everyone's on their phones trying to get information," the 17-year-old said. He said students were not panicking, but "everyone's worried about who was hurt."

Doppelt said he heard "a low rumble and we felt something."

He didn't think much of it until the fire alarm went off a minute later, he said.

Students were initially taken outside and teachers told them it wasn't a drill.

"The teachers seemed really worried about it," Doppelt said.

CPS said in the statement that parents were notified via robo-calls and a letter.

Northside College Prep father and local school council member Erick Howenstine said such an incident is an aberration at the school.

"I know the school has very high standards in terms of its care in what they do," the father of a senior said. "I'm really surprised to hear there was an explosion, and I'm hopeful that no one was actually seriously hurt."

Howenstine said his son sent him a text message saying he was OK.

Students returned to their classrooms after getting clearance from the Fire Department, according to Hood.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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