SPOKANE, Wash. -- Two soda bottles containing likely household chemicals exploded at Ferris High School Wednesday morning, prompting evacuations and a full search of the campus.
The first blew up near the start of the school day in a hallway. Initial reports said three faculty members were injured. The Spokane Fire Department later said just one custodian suffered a superficial skin irritation while he cleaned up the mess. He was not treated and not transported.
Just after 11 a.m. a second device exploded in the school commons as emergency crews examined the liquid in the first bottle. Schools then began evacuating and organizing buses by 11:40 a.m.
Police say school officials believed the first incident was minor and that's why they kept school in session. The school decided to evacuate just after the second explosion.
Many students described the explosions as loud and startling. One girl told KREM 2 News the sound of the explosion stopped her heart. Another student saw a greenish smoke from one of the explosions and that it smelled musty.
KREM 2 News spoke to a Ferris teacher who wished not to be named that said the school initiated a lockdown procedure right after the second explosion so they could get kids into classrooms and make sure everyone was accounted for. Once the lockdown was lifted about 20 minutes after the second explosion, the evacuation was started immediately. The teacher heard about the second explosion from students returning from the commons area complaining they weren't allowed to eat lunch as staff evacuated the commons. The teacher described the lockdown and evacuation as "calm and controlled" and proceeding like those events were supposed to. The teacher complimented the students for remaining calm.
Members from the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane Fire Department responded. Officials from both departments believed these bottles contained household chemicals and said students were not in serious danger. Authorities call this more of a nuisance than anything else.
"This is finals week," Spokane Public Schools spokeswoman Terren Roloff said. "According to the police and the fire department, this is a common strategy to get out of school. Still, however, we thought it was the best thing to do to let students out so we can search for any more of those devices."
The gym was searched early and was deemed to be free of any suspicious devices. Students that could not walk home or drive home waited in the gym for buses to arrive.
Commissioned school resource officers will spend the remainder of the day exploring the campus.
School is expected to be in session Thursday.
At this point, police have not identified any suspects.
KREM 2 will be tracking this situation throughout the day.