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Two 10th-graders at Manhattan's award-winning Beacon School were injured Thursday morning when a routine lab experiment went horribly awry, leaving one boy with serious burns.
Chemistry teacher Anna Poole had hoped to treat her students to a "fun" demonstration of the rainbow of flames that results from burning four kinds of nitrates in separate crucibles, students and law-enforcement told The Post.
But a volatile buildup of methyl alcohol fumes in the Upper West Side school's third-floor chemistry lab ignited into a fireball that sped across a countertop and engulfed sophomore Alonzo Yanes, 16.
"Help me! Help me!" screamed Yanes, who stood only a couple of feet away from the crucibles, according to witnesses. None of the students was wearing goggles.
Yanes dropped to the floor and tried to roll, but precious seconds ticked by until a fire extinguisher and then a blanket were used to extinguish the flames.
"His skin -- a lot of it was melted and scabbed," said a classmate, Jeremy Reynoso, 15.
"He was on fire for a good minute," Reynoso said. "I saw his ear was melting. The skin was peeling. His face was red. Afterward, he wasn�t talking or moving."
Yanes suffered second- and third-degree burns to his head and neck, while another student, Julia Saltonstall, 16, suffered less severe burns to her neck, head and arm, said Deputy Fire Chief Anthony Devita.
The boy remained Thursday night in Cornell Medical Center's burn unit.
"The teacher was reportedly demonstrating how certain chemicals react to others, which you do expect in a science class," Devita said.
Poole, who also has taught at Bronx HS of Science, had "wanted to do something fun," Reynoso recalled.
"It was just an accident on the teacher�s part. I�m assuming the experiment went wrong."
He went on, "She had four crucibles set on the table, and she lit them up. There were four different- color fires -- red, purple, green and yellow.
"Then they all stopped burning and she lit them up again. I'm not sure if she used a lighter fluid."
A law-enforcement source confirmed that methanol, or methyl alcohol, appears to have caused the experiment to go out of control.
"Everybody froze, and I just ran and I got the fire extinguisher. I tried to press it, but the pin was in it," Ahmadou Gueye, 15, told The Post. "Then I gave it to the teacher and she used it."
Another chemistry teacher, Michael Shum, rushed in and threw a blanket on the writhing student. "And that really put out the fire," said Reynoso.