This story was written by Peter Blanchard and originally reported by The Cortland Voice. 

DRYDEN, N.Y. — Dryden High School was evacuated Tuesday morning after a trash can caught fire in the school’s chemistry lab, officials said.

A fire alarm went off at the high school around 9:30 a.m., and both the middle and high schools were evacuated, Dryden Fire Chief Mike Hall said in a written statement.

The fire happened during an educational experiment in the chemistry lab.

A student using a paper towel to clean a chemical container threw the towel in a trash can. At the same time, another student washed and dried their hands with water and threw a damp paper towel in the trash can, creating a chemical reaction between the water and chemicals, the district said.

The teacher for the class was able to quickly douse the flames using a fire extinguisher. He then pulled the fire alarm to evacuate the building, closing the door to the lab on his way out.

“The incident was contained, and no students were harmed,” the district said in a statement Tuesday night.

The wing of the building where the blaze occurred was isolated and the building was closed for the rest of the day “in the interest of staff and student safety,” Chief Hall said. Students that were in the lab were assessed by nurses and paramedics, and none showed any signs of irritation to the nose, ears, or throat, the district said.

The school district says it plans to utilize health and safety services from TST BOCES to test the air as a precautionary measure. As a result, Dryden Middle and High schools will be closed Wednesday.

“We take student safety very seriously,” Dryden Superintendent Sandy Sherwood said in a statement. “The school has evacuation and emergency procedures in place to keep our kids safe, and they were followed accordingly.”

The Ithaca Fire Department, Dryden Police Department, Dryden Ambulance and New York State Police assisted the Dryden Fire Department at the scene.

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.