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UPDATED: Gackle-Streeter school evacuated

Students at Gackle-Streeter Public School were evacuated from the building at 2:45 p.m. today after a spill of magnesium was reported, according to Daniel Schwartz, Logan County emergency manager.

The spill reportedly occurred in a closet in a high school science lab. Officials were not sure how much magnesium was spilled, and the closet was closed off until response teams from Fargo and Jamestown arrived, Schwartz said.

“We had a chemical spill in our chem lab when a jar broke on its own,” said Duke Larson, superintendent of Gackle-Streeter Public School. “It was flammable, and we called the county emergency manager and decided to evacuate.”

Magnesium is considered highly flammable and reacts with water or acids to produce hydrogen gas which is considered highly flammable and poses a risk of explosion, according to Material Data Safety Sheets, information sheets mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration available online.

Jim Reuther, Jamestown fire chief, said the Fargo hazmat team arrived at Gackle about 5:10 p.m. and made entry to retrieve the material. Jamestown Fire Department personnel served as backup during the removal process.

“At 5:35 the substance was canned and sealed,” Reuther said.

The material was then removed from the school.

Reuther estimated the amount of the substance as less than a half pint. It had been stored in a dark glass bottle.

“Actually the whole process went well,” Larson said. “We evacuated as planned and waited it out until the buses got there. We had good communications with the county, fire departments and the hazardous materials people.”

Classes for the 104 students at the school will be held as normally scheduled Wednesday at Gackle-Streeter, Larson said.